Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Travels

Another year is almost gone, another year I've neglected this blog. Sad. Good thing New Year's is around the corner and I can resolve to post more again! In the meantime, in case you missed it, you can see my last two posts on the Blue Rose Girls here and here. I wrote about first pages and what else--New Year's resolutions!

My friend and former colleague Jill has just set off on a solo, around-the-world trip. Thirteen countries in about nine months. I am both in awe and insanely jealous, even though in my old age I've realized that two-week trips are about the right length of time for me. I'd love to "live" in another country again for about a month, though. So glad I at least experienced that in the year and a half after college (when I lived in Taiwan and traveled around Asia).

Jill also ran the NYC marathon this year. Read about her experience here, and follow her travels on her blog, "A Journey of One Inch"! She's in New Zealand now:


Speaking of traveling, I'm a fan of The Amazing Race. Anyone catch the finale on Sunday? The team I was rooting for won! Hurray! That's one reality show I'd love to be on. I just have to find the right partner...

As for me, my next trip is back to Southern California next week--I'll be in CA for almost three weeks (!) as I'll be staying through the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter conference in San Diego. It will be nice to get away from the grind and unwind.

Next May I'll be heading to Australia! Woo-hoo! I'll be there for the Visiting International Publishers (VIP) program at the Sydney Writer's Festival. My plan is to go out a week early and spend some time in Melbourne with friends. I was in Australia nine years ago for a wedding in Byron Bay, and also visited Fraser Island and spent just one night in Sydney. I loved it, and am excited to be back to see more of the country, and spend more time in Sydney.

What will your next big trip be?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Marathon!

I ran the NYC Marathon in 2006, and it was an amazing experience. On Sunday, the day of the marathon, I re-read my blog post about my run and got all nostalgic.

Today, my friend Gwen posted this great recap of her second marathon. She also documented her run using a special camera on her head! I have to say, it made me emotional to watch this, remembering how I felt at certain spots of the route.

Read and see her video here. (Time-lapse video is also below)


2010 NYC Marathon Time Lapse from wnyc culture on Vimeo.

Congratulations, Gwen!

I actually entered the lottery for the marathon this year, but I didn't get in. And to be honest, I was actually really really really hoping that I wouldn't get in. It's an amazing experience, but it sure does take up a lot of time for the training. Plus, it's exhausting and painful and all that...

But I've decided to just keep entering the lottery to see what happens. And perhaps I'll eventually run one with my Dad.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

On Thursday we had our company Halloween party. Here are pics from throughout the day:
we sure have a weird cast of characters at our editorial meetings.

Adriana as Arthur
Deirdre as the Substitute Creature (by Chris Gall)
Mara as THE CURIOUS GARDEN by Peter Brown
Pam and I are Rachel and Tina from GLEE
Emma as Squeaker, Leslie as Lucy from Peter Brown's CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS
Yes, Julie and Emma Andrews's THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS (aka Allison) has an office job.
Connie as a crying baby from YOU ARE MY LITTLE CUPCAKE
Julie as Homer Pudding from Suzanne Selfor's SMELLS LIKE DOG
Kate as a DUFF (by Kody Keplinger)
Adam as TWILIGHT!
Ian as a squirrel from David Sedaris's SQUIRREL SEEKS CHIPMUNK
Victoria as a Lee Harvey from the upcoming YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE by Sean Beaudoin

Happy Halloween!

See pics from previous years here and here and here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reflections on YA

I was on the panel "Reflections on YA" this past Tuesday at the NYPL. The audio of the panel is up on the NYPL website. We talked about digital publishing, paranormal romance, diversity in publishing, and more. It was a great conversation. If you missed it, you can hear what went on here.

Contest and redesign!

Head over to see what's new at the Blue Rose Girls--we've just give the blog a brand-new look, and are running a contest right now. You can win cookies! And books!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Furball Friday

Now that I'm the proud co-owner of two cats, Venus and Serena, and am constantly taking pictures of them and showing them off to people like a crazy cat lady, I thought I'd follow fellow Blue Rose Girl Anna Alter's lead and start a Furball Friday post.

Here's the first one!

Serena and Venus napping

Sunday, October 10, 2010

But hey, it's Brooklyn, not Ohio


About a month ago on a Saturday night, G and I were kept awake by a large party our downstairs neighbors were throwing. The music caused our entire apartment to vibrate. It was unbearable. I hadn't been feeling great that day and was hoping to get to sleep early. I turned on the TV to mask the sound, put my pillow over my ears. Sleep wasn't happening. Finally, at about a quarter past one, G decided to go downstairs to ask them to turn the music down.

As if the shaking apartment was not provocative enough, above is a photo of the note G encountered when he reached their apartment door. As you can imagine, this note did not improve his mood. After a lengthy discussion with the neighbors about "rights" (their right to throw a party in the U.S. of A, our right to sleep and live in peace in our own apt), they turned the music down.

To their credit, they've been quiet neighbors ever since (a talking-to by our landlord probably helped, too). To our credit, the phone number above is blocked out.

Yes, I have officially turned into the cranky old neighbor. Kids these days. Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Newbery red carpet videos

Grace Lin had really wanted to do the red carpet video at ALA, because she wanted to tell the story of how she picked and eventually found her dress, but because we were in the receiving line for so long after the banquet, we didn't have a chance to do it until close to midnight when we were both exhausted. Grace made me do it first, and although I had hoped that the video would end up being lost somewhere, I just discovered that they've edited my video with Grace's, asking us about "the call." Please excuse us in advance for our babbling, and I also want to apologize for getting our School and Marketing Associate Director's title wrong (I called her Manager). Sorry, Victoria! You can also view the video on YouTube here.



Grace had posted back in January details about the call here.

And, of course, she also got to tell the story about her dress!


Check out all of the red carpet interviews here. They really did a wonderful job! And, of course, it's fun for me to relive it all. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Brooklyn in the House! Or, er, apartment in Brooklyn!

I've been feeling a little guilty about neglecting this blog. Poor blog. Every year I'm determined to post more often, every year that resolution goes by the wayside. At any rate, I thought I'd just mention that after 8 years of living in New York City, specifically in Manhattan on the Upper East Side (in two different apartments), about six weeks ago I made a big move to Brooklyn. I was a little apprehensive about leaving my huge triplex with a beautiful roof terrace (here's a picture of me on one of my last times on the terrace. Boo hoo.):

I have so many great memories from that apartment. I moved in five years ago during a real transitional period of my life. I met several whole new groups of friends during my time there. I ran a marathon while living there. I had several different relationships, friendships that came and went. I moved in as an Associate Editor, moved out as a Senior Editor. I walked to work in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, in the cold. Many parties, many guests, many roommates, good times, great times, happy times, sad times. But now onto a new chapter of my life!

I've always liked Brooklyn, and have hung out there a bunch, a lot of my friends live in Brooklyn, and overall I was excited the make the change and explore a new neighborhood. To make new memories.

So far so good! I'm loving it. The commute isn't bad--I miss the walk, but it's the same amount of time, I have a lot of different subway options and routes to choose from, and more importantly I'm finding that I have more reading time. I've been running in Prospect Park most mornings. I've been meeting friends in the neighborhood for brunch and dinner and drinks and trying out local places. So many great restaurants to try! And this past Friday I celebrated my birthday in a Brooklyn bar a few blocks away from my apartment.
(I'm holding the youngest party guest!)


I heart Brooklyn! This picture is from today, on a block near my apt:
More soon. I promise.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SHARK VS TRAIN and HAPPYFACE book trailers

Yes, we're silly. During our office Halloween party last year, I decided we should take advantage of our costumes and film a few impromptu book trailers. First, here's one for SHARK VS. TRAIN by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld.



voiceover: Connie Hsu
Shark: Alvina Ling (aka, the editor of the book)
Train: Maria Mercado (aka the designer of the book)

And here's one for HAPPYFACE by Stephen Emond




Singer: Alvina Ling
Happyface: Connie Hsu (aka, the editor of the book)

And here are our costumes:

 (2nd Happyface is the designer of the book, Ben Mautner)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I am Taiwanese American

All my life, my parents told me "If anyone asks, you're Taiwanese. Not Chinese. It's different." As a child I would dutifully comply, even though I didn't completely understand the distinction. In high school, one of my friends would tell me that I was Chinese American, like her. And when I disagreed, we would argue about it, no doubt just spouting our parents' political beliefs.

Well, I now understand the difference (especially after having lived in Taiwan for over a year after college), and yes, there is a difference. And yes, some of it is politically-based. To a certain extent, it comes down to whether or not you believe that Taiwan is an independent country, not a renegade province belonging to China. I believe that Taiwan is (and should be recognized as such) its own nation. Taiwan is a democracy. It has its own political system, its own president, its own economy, industry, and foods and culture. It's a tropical island country. Are many aspects of the culture similar to Chinese culture? Of course, but there are also so many differences: the food (oyster pancakes! Smelly tofu! Bubble tea! Bah-zang!), the language (although Mandarin is now the official dialect in Taiwan, the Taiwanese dialect is very different), and especially the way the people there think (as you can expect, someone growing up in a democracy that encourages freedom of speech and thought will be much different from one growing up in a Communist country with censorship. Also, Taiwan had been occupied in the past by both the Dutch and the Japanese, and there are influences from both in the Taiwanese culture today). Taiwan has been separate from the mainland for over 200 years. And all of this was especially apparent to me when I visited China two years ago and realized the extent of the differences.

Anyway, I don't want to go on and on. I simply wanted to share this marvelous video. To my delight and surprise (they hadn't told me they were doing this), my younger brother, parents, and aunt and uncle are all featured! Can you guess which ones they are?



(Need a hint? Check this link out.)

I am Taiwanese American!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest post

Hi all,

I have a guest post up at Justine Larbalestier's blog here. It's all about my job as a children's book editor, and it links to some older posts either here or over at the Blue Rose Girls blog. I'm answering questions over there (and as always, here, too!), so check it out!

I also had a new post up over at the Blue Rose Girls on Monday.

This week I've been reading a ton, editing a ton, watching American Idol a ton, participating in Twitter Kidlitchat and YAlitchat, as well as watching the Olympics. Sometimes all at the same time!

Man, I feel like going skiing right now!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Acquisitions, Celebrations, and a BRG weekend

Okay, no more cheating, I'm no longer going to re-post from Blue Rose Girls. I will, however, link to new posts I have over there. But I figure I'll need some motivation to post original content over here.

If you're curious, I posted today about some recent acquisition news.

In other news, we had a lovely toast for Grace Lin's Newbery Honor in the office last Friday:

And this past weekend I spent a very lovely weekend in Northampton, MA with my fellow Blue Rose Girls. It was our last weekend together before Grace's wedding at the end of the month. We spent it doing some wedding crafts (making icing flowers):


Doing Grace's hair and makeup:
And got dressed up for a lovely dinner:
Here is a sampling of some of the delicious food we had at a restaurant called Bistro Les Gras:
Yum!

Thank you to Anna for hosting and planning. It was a lovely getaway from the city.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SCBWI Annual Winter Conference 2010

Cross-posted from the Blue Rose Girls:

***
This past weekend I spoke at the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York for the first time. I've participated multiple times in the Writer's Workshop the day before the conference, but never spoke at the big event, so was excited to see what it was all about. I was also curious to see how it would compare to the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles.

So, how did it compare? Well, it was equally wonderful, inspiring, and well organized. The conference was kicked off Saturday morning a keynote speech by the incomparable Libba Bray, who certainly started things off on a humorous, touching, and inspiring note. I especially loved the story about her son: When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, "I want to be a giraffe!" Wow. Me too. (okay, not really, I wanted to be a dolphin.) She declared this year the "Year of Writing Dangerously."

Then we broke off into workshops. I led one called "The Real Deal about Literary Novels" which I gave twice in the morning and once in the afternoon. I attempted to define "Literary Fiction," (in general, literary novels are more character focused, whereas commercial fiction is more plot focused--but really, it took almost the whole hour to just define it!), gave examples (Firegirl by Tony Abbott, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, North of Beatiful by Justina Chen Headley, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, etc.), read some gorgeous descriptions from the latter two novels, read some examples of literary "voice" (including the opening of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which most people recognized right away), and weaved in the different definitions of "literary fiction" that I gathered from my colleagues. One of my favorites compared literary fiction to eating a chocolate truffle: "a little goes a long way, you savor each bite slowly, enjoying the nuances of the different ingredients, the textures and how they work together, the coating, the presentation, etc.” I also read a passage from agent Nathan Bransford's very excellent post giving his definition quite clearly. Thanks, Nathan!

The lunchtime keynote was by Jacqueline Woodson. It was soothing, personal, and powerful. I could listen to her talk all day! I wonder if she reads her own audiobooks...
And the afternoon keynote was by Peter Sis. Peter Sis is one of my heroes. I absolutely love his art. I'd never heard him speak, and had never heard his story (except from reading his books), and wow. What a life.

And then it was over. At least for Saturday. I wasn't speaking on Sunday and needed to get some work work done, so stayed away. But I checked out the fabulous Official SCBWI Conference Blog to catch up on everything I missed. Great stuff. If you're a writer and need a kick in the pants of inspiration, I highly recommend attending an SCBWI conference.

***

In case you're interested in learning about the Amazon.com versus Macmillan ebook kerfuffle that happened over the weekend, you can check out the most excellent summary and interpretation of the whole thing as it unfolded over at Scott Westerfeld's blog here. And read the NYTimes article here. This development, combined with the announcement of the new iPad (yes, I want one. But I'll wait), makes me more interested than ever to see how the ebook industry will develop.

***

In other news...how is it possible that it's February already?!?! And, I dunno...I have a feeling that this month is going to go by faster than the other months. Just a hunch.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Newbery Aftermath and Checking In on my New Year's Resolutions

Cross-posted from the Blue Rose Girls!

***

First of all, I added a few pictures to my ALA Midwinter post when I cross-posted it on my personal blog. Check it out here.

And here's a picture of what I came into my office to see after the news was announced. My assistant made the huge medal to adorn the book (the Al Roker is from another coworker after we found out the book would be Al Roker's Book Club pick on the Today show, and the stars are for the starred reviews the book received). The beautiful flowers are from my Publisher. They smelled fantastic, too.


I'm still basking in the news of Grace's Newbery Honor, and I can't express enough my gratitude to the Newbery Committee who recognized Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. As I mentioned in my post, as an editor, it is my dream to acquire and edit a book that becomes a classic. Of course, a Newbery Honor, or even a Newbery Medal, does not ensure that a book will become a classic, but it sure the heck doesn't hurt! Grace, your books are all classics in my book.

****

So, now that we're over three weeks into 2010 (not a bad year so far, I must say!), and I thought I'd check to see how I'm doing on my work resolutions.

1) Learn how to say "no" more. 
Yes! I turned down at least two conference invites this year already, as well as a few requests for meetings.

2) Stop counting on weekend and vacations and holidays to "catch up" on work.
I'm sorry to say that I haven't kept this up. In fact, I went into the office both days this past weekend. Then again, I didn't feel bad about it. I enjoyed the work I accomplished.

3) Don't stay at the office past 9 pm.

Yes! I think two days this year I stayed till just before 9 pm, but overall I've managed to leave the office at a decent time each evening.

4) Work towards "Inbox Zero"--I think this is probably too lofty a goal, so to be a little more realistic, I'd like to have under 20 emails in my inbox by the end of each day (Let's call it Inbox Twenty).
Yes! I'm the most amazed that I've been able to keep this up. The closest call was the first Monday back at work after the break, because I was dealing with weeks of emails that had piled up over my vacation. As 8 pm passed, I realized that resolution #3 would at times be in direct competition with #4...but for now, both resolutions have been achieved.

5) While at work, work. Less socializing and web surfing. 
Yes! Limiting Facebook and Twitter use while at work has worked wonders. I should probably cut out Gawker, too, though.

6) Acquire at least two picture books, two middle grade, and two young adult projects this year.
I'm working on it! Just finalized a two-book deal for two YA novels--more on that after the deal is announced. Also have a three-book middle grade deal in the works...

7) Read a little before bed at least five times a week. Read at least one published book per month.
Yes! Read one published book this month so far, over halfway through another.

8) Tidy my office at least a little bit once a week.
Ummm....maybe?

How are you all doing with your resolutions so far?

Monday, January 18, 2010

ALA Midwinter 2010: an honor!

I'm so thrilled that Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon has been awarded the Newbery Honor! And also so happy that Jerry Pinkney has finally won the Caldecott Gold with The Lion and the Mouse. It was a good day for Little, Brown! See all of the honorees here.

Here are me and Andrea Spooner (editor of The Lion and the Mouse) celebrating at the hotel after hearing the news and before heading over the the awards ceremony.

Watch the announcements of the Caldecott here, and of the Newbery here. My apologies for the shaky, off-center camera work!

Grace posted a few pics of "the call." So cute!

Here are Grace's agent Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House and I fawning over the book and the nice, shiny medal:


And finally, Grace arrived triumphant to the convention center in the afternoon:


Yay, Grace! I love this book so much. One of the Newbery committee members said to me afterwards, "This book is going to be a classic." That is my hope and dream.

For an update of the rest of ALA as I posted on the Blue Rose Girls before the award announcements, read on below.

**********


I'm writing this post on Sunday night in my hotel room in Boston while watching the Golden Globes. I've been here since Friday for the American Library Association Midwinter Conference, and as actors and writers and directors, etc. all collect their awards, I'm trying not to think about our awards, the ones bestowed by the venerable American Library Association. I was burned last year, and on a roller coaster ride the whole weekend before the announcements, and was determined for that to not happen this year, and for the most part it's worked. I've managed to not think about it too much (yeah right).

That aside, I've set this the post automatically at 8:30 AM, so by now we all know which books have won, so I'll just give a general CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners! Although I have a few predictions and hopes, for the most part I have no idea what is going to win.

It's been a great conference so far. On my train to Boston on Friday, I saw a woman reading Grace's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Fun! Friday evening, Grace hosted a lovely dessert party at her home. Great company, conversation, and of course tons of dessert! Including Grace's delicious red velvet cupcakes.

Midwinter ALA is probably the most mellow of the conferences for me, as we don't tend to host authors at this conference--so no big events and lunches and dinners. Instead, we have one morning preview breakfast (Saturday morning) where we highlight some of our upcoming books to a select group of librarians. Here's the swag:

And then at the end of the breakfast, we had surprise secret guest speakers Andrea and Brian Pinkney, creators of the amazing book Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.

Then I headed off to the convention center:

Saturday afternoon I attended the "Great ALA Midwinter Kids/YA Lit Tweet-up" along with Anna and Grace. The Tweet-up was organized by Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan, and was a rousing success. It really was the place to be, as shown by all of the party crashers who showed up! It was so successful and well-attended that there were so many people there that I didn't end up seeing at all. Ah, well. Next time!

Sunday I had a lovely breakfast with agent Lauren MacLeod, and then an equally lovely lunch with agents Erin Murphy and Ammi-Joan Paquette. Then it was off to the BBYA teen feedback session. There seemed to be fewer teens than in previous years, and the session barely lasted an hour, but there were still some gems. One girls said that Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia "Made me feel like a little kid again, in a good way. I loved it!! I loved it so much." Of Catherine Jinks's The Reformed Vampire Support Group, on teen said, "Yeah, it's another vampire book, but that's okay--it's a good one!" Another teen about an issue book: "I'm wondering if all authors think all teens have issues?"

The three favorite books on the list for the teens seemed to be Fire by Kristin Cashore, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and Swim the Fly by Don Calame. Of the latter, one teen boy said, "This was my favorite book I read in 2009." Another teen said that she was so engrossed in Catching Fire that she forgot to eat.

I listened in on the Notables Committee for a bit as they discussed nonfiction (including a somewhat baffling debate as to whether giving animals names implies anthropomorphism), and then back to BBYA.

And finally, Sunday night I went out to Somerville again to have dinner at an old favorite, Redbones. Here's a pic of our feast, and friends:

And now it's past 11, the Golden Globes are over, and it's time for bed. After the awards announcements I'll be manning the booth until the convention floor closes, and then will sit in on BBYA again before heading back to NY. If you're still at the conference, come find me and say hi!