Rose Lemberg has commissioned me to compose & perform the music to “Embersong” in support of her Kickstarter for her newest anthology An Alphabet of Embers. If you pledge $30 or more, not only do you get the trade paperback & ebook versions of An Alphabet of Embers + a postcard of Galen Dara’s amazing artwork of the cover, you get to own the mp3 version of Embersong!
My poem “Good Enough” was published in Stone Telling’s 10th issue with the theme of Body. Special thanks to editors Rose & Shweta and wonderful staff Bogi & Jenn! I’m pleased to share their interview, where I answer their questions about my poem and my writing. Here’s a haiku I wrote for the interview (yes, I answer their questions in prose & haiku):
Poetry gives voice
to identity and space
to navigate dreams.
So ALSC had a Twitter chat a while ago about diversity and asked what the definition was.
Diversity as we are talking about it is highlighting the underrepresented populations.
Even within underrepresented populations there are people who do not want to discuss diversity.
This past last choir concert on Sunday was a particularly painful one for me on all levels, physical, emotional, mental. Now that I’m singing in the first row, I stand on the floor in performance instead of the squeaky risers. I wear very flat thin-soled shoes instead of my typical 2-inch platforms so that the singers behind me can easily see over my head and catch our conductor’s cues. So there’s really not a lot protecting my feet from the hard tile floor. In the past it was mangable to just subtly shift my weight while I sing, but on Sunday that was not good enough. My choir always rehearses before performing in a concert, and during pre-concert rehearsal, I noticed my right foot hurt when I put my weight on it. Plus, I was feeling lightheaded and a little wobbly-woozy, which made perfect sense after I realized that I had not eaten a thing all day and it was 3:30 PM. It had been that kind of a busy-packed day. So in less than 30 minutes, I acquired food, which centered me, and quickly changed into my choir costume.
But my foot was still bothering me, to the point that I seriously considered not singing in the concert. I didn’t have a vital role like a solo, so why not?
But I knew such last-minute changes might unsettle my friends who sing around me, and the pain wasn’t too bad at the time. I decided I would just tough it out. During the first half of the concert, I compensated for the pain in my right foot by shifting most of my weight onto my left foot. It was bearable and I succeeded in staying in the moment most of the time. I started to regret my decision to perform during the second half of the concert, when my left calf cramped up and my left foot started prickling because it had fallen asleep. All low-level endurable pain, uncomfortable but not agonizing, not enough to force me to leave the stage.
But I am a trained musician, and I know that in performance one must go on with the show. So I sang through my pain in my feet. I immersed myself into the music as best I could, and I sang through my tears that always flow whenever I sing Brian Holmes’ “Let Evening Come” which was the last song of our concert. And at the end of the concert (one of our best performances and the audience gave us a standing ovation at the end), I managed to walk off, head held high, without limping too much. I discovered that while I was walking, my feet felt mostly fine. Standing still was what hurt the most. So right after the concert, I alternated between resting my feet and walking around taking photos of and with my choir friends.
Then a lovely lady from the audience approached me. She told me it was her first time listening to my choir. She said that I had a lovely smile and that my facial expressions and my smile matched the music so well. She said that she could tell I truly felt the music when I sang. She said that I needed to keep singing and that she would return to another concert to see me sing.
This unexpected conversation with a complete stranger brought tears to my eyes (and hers as well) and reminded me why I endure the pain, physically and emotionally and mentally, to make music and to make art in general. I create to make a genuine connection, and if one person, My Audience of One, truly “gets” my art, then my job is done.
I’m grateful for this gift of encouragement from a complete stranger. I definitely shall keep singing!!
I’m delighted that Crystal Brunelle of Reading Through Life has written a lovely review of Summoning the Phoenix! Crystal is a children’s librarian and blogger for Rich in Color, a wonderful resource for those interested in diversity in YA. Thank you, Crystal, for your thoughtful review!
My author dream is
to reach the readers who need
and enjoy my book.
My picture book Summoning the Phoenix is the #1 Bestselling Hardcover at Borderlands Books in April 2014! I am blown away that this picture book about racially diverse kids playing Chinese musical instruments is on ANY bestselling list. THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the awesome folks who supported April and me at our first big book party and who bought books directly from Borderlands.
See the full list at the blog for Borderlands Books.
I’m honored that Nancy Bo Flood of The Pirate Tree has written a review of Summoning the Phoenix! She introduces it as “an orchestra of images, poetry, and informative narratives” and also provides some excerpts of my poems from the book.
I love unlikely
groupings that challenges me to see
the world anew.
Last week I met up with April Chu and other wonderful children’s book artists at the opening for The Storybook Makers exhibit at the Village Theater & Art Gallery in Danville, California.
Here’s April with her stunning artwork from Summoning the Phoenix:
April’s art invites
your imagination to
wonder, take flight, soar.
Above is Thatcher Hurd next to a piece of art he made using his iPhone.
artwork conveys his sense of
boldly fun whimsy.
Above is Jim Averbeck pointing at his gorgeous collage piece.
Using black & white,
Jim collages a world of
April had convinced me to go to see The Storybook Makers Art Exhibit with the promise of watching cool animated shorts, so we sat in the theater anticipating wonder.
Here’s the screen:
The movies were so fun! I had two favorites. One about a boat that was battered by animals, people, and the weather, then it was gradually rebuilt by the animals and people who originally used it. So poignantly awesome. My other favorite was about a relationship between a creature of sand and a creature of snow, and how they communicated and shared stuff via a glass bottle thrown into the ocean.
Lea Lyon was the only artist at the reception I knew, and she was too fast-moving for me to take her photo. But here’s a funny selfie of me and Jim to substitute for Lea.
Above is a friend whose name I’ve forgotten (sorry!), Deborah David, Sharon Levin, Lissa Rovetch (co-curator of the wonderful exhibit).
One more picture where April and I are holding our book underneath her gorgeous art:
Thanks to Toby Black for taking the photo above!
Here’s the complete list of the featured artists: Jon Agee, Constance Anderson, Jim Averbeck, Alexandra Boiger, Lisa Brown, April Chu, Julie Downing, Carson Ellis, Susan Gal, Christy Hale, Thacher Hurd, Sung Yeon Joh, Shaun Kim, Elisa Klevin, Jim LaMarche, Mary Lundquist, Lea Lyon, Gianna Marino, Amy Martin, Nikki McClure, Brian McMullen, Marissa Moss, Erick Oh, Kathryn Otoshi, Leuyen Pham, Mira Reisberg, Lissa Rovetch, Barney Saltzberg, J. Otto Seilbold, Teri Sloat, Dan San Souci, Karen Stanton, Katherine Tillotson, Maria Van Lieshout, Jane Wattenberg, Ashley Wolff and Michael Wu.
The show runs through June 13, 2014. It’s definitely worth checking out!
create magical artwork,
evoke wondrous worlds.
I had many dreams as a pre-published author. I’ll list them for a later blog post. But most of all, I dreamt of cake! Yes, I knew that I would eat cake decorated with the cover of my book. It always was a magical experience, to see a cake decorated with a book cover. Here’s how I managed to acquire one such cake for my last book party at Hicklebee’s.
The most important thing is that you have a high-res version (300 dpi) of your book’s cover. I got mine from my publisher & then made a smaller version for the web.
As a new author,
you will want your book’s cover
at your fingertips.
Then you need a cake, ideally with white or very light colored icing so that the transfer colors will stay true. I’ve been lucky to have wonderfully awesome friends bake a few cakes for a couple of my book parties, and then I’ve had to resort to store-bought for the last one. Below is a half-sheet cake, which serves about 30-40 people.
You will need to order a cake transfer. What is a cake transfer? It’s printed with edible inks onto edible paper made of rice or marshmallow. I recommend ordering it within 24 hours of your event because they are rather delicate. Here’s mine below:
A cake transfer is
edible art, delicate,
The largest cake transfer I could get was about 7 x 10 inches, which almost completely covers a quarter-sheet cake but also looks nice on a half-sheet cake. I had mine printed at a local Baskin Robbins for $15 and then personally delivered it to my baker friend or the bakery that made my cake. However, I learned the hard way that several Baskin Robbins DO NOT have these special printers that can make cake transfers. So double check with local bakeries, too.
I watched the baker put the transfer onto the cake, and here are some photos. It literally only took a few minutes to finish.
Remove cake transfer
from its packaging, eyeball
the cake’s center space.
Place it carefully
where it needs to go because
it sticks easily.
Pro Tip: Recommend
decorating cake AFTER
putting on transfer.
Pat transfer onto
icing. The transfer will melt
into the icing.
The baker takes blue
icing to pipe a border
hiding all edges.
Piping on edges
only takes a few minutes.
The effect = awesome!
That’s it for the cake! A unique touch to your party & really so easy, once you figure out where to get a cake transfer. Stay tuned for my formal write up on the last Summoning the Phoenix book party at Hicklebee’s!
Cake tastes better when
your book is on the cover.
Author’s dream come true!
To support #WeNeedDiverseBooks & #DiversifyYourShelves, I’m pleased to share that April Chu and I are going to sponsor our FIRST giveaway! The lucky winner will receive a copy of our debut picture book Summoning the Phoenix: Poems & Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments AND a beautiful print of April’s artwork from our book! To enter, comment below listing your favorite book recommendation in support of #DiversifyYourShelves (note your comments will not appear right away because I receive spam on my blog, so I moderate the comments).
Here are some examples of April’s gorgeous artwork from our book:
To enter the giveaway, please comment below & include your favorite book recommendation in support of #DiversifyYourShelves. Again, your comment will not immediately show up because my comments are moderated, since my blog does receive spam comments.
One lucky winner will be drawn sometime after April and I have recovered from our fourth and FINAL book party, which is TODAY (Saturday, May 3rd, 3-5 PM at Hicklebee’s in San Jose). So I urge you to comment right away!