Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, October 10, 2011


A good turn out at the Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA.
   The Dastardly Dames book launch in Corte Madera was finally here! I'd been practicing my spiel on Cixi for the last few days. Public speaking is not my thing, although I'm getting better at it.  Naturally I was nervous, but I was glad to have the other Dastardly Dame authors to share this with. 
   Our event began with a major glitch—it's Fleet Week in San Francisco, and Shirin Bridges (publisher of Goosebottom Books and author of Agrippina), and Janie Havemeyer (author of Catherine de'Medici) were stuck in heavy traffic south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The venue at the Book Passage in Corte Madera was nicely set up with signing tables for the Dames authors, and a table for coffee, juice, milk, and food. Unfortunately, the food was with Shirin in traffic. There were already people milling around, and Goosebottom Books' assistant, Ann Edwards, and the other authors were there, so we made the best of things, and kept in touch with Shirin by phone. 
   My first public speaking attempt was at 4:15 pm., 15 mins. after the event was to start, to announce to the crowd that we were off to a late start because two of our authors were not here yet. Janie finally made it through and arrived about 20 or 25 mins. after the event was about to begin, but we were still hoping that Shirin would get here for the start of the presentations. After speaking with the bookstore event coordinator, however, we decided we had to begin as they had another event afterwards, and we didn't want to make people wait too long. 

All the authors did a fantastic job on their presentations.  It was so much fun listening to their dames' stories, and to be a part of this fabulous team of authors.  Cixi, The Dragon Empress being the last woman in the chronological timeline was last, and Shirin did make it towards the end of my presentation to talk about 
From L. to R.: Goosebottom Books editorial assistant,
Ann Edwards; my friend, Richard Loo; my brother,
 Jason Yim and his girlfriend, Sylvia Rodriguez.
   Goosebottom Books and Agrippina. She was amazingly smooth and unruffled in spite of the stress of dealing with the traffic and being late to the Goosebottom Books event! 
At my book signing table
More book signings!
   We also had a terrific time signing books afterwards and chatting with our friends and family. My parents came with Shirin, but fortunately, they were able to listen to a bit of my presentation and see me on the podium. My brother, Jason, and his girlfriend, Sylvia, brought her parents all the way up from L.A. What a treat! And a few of my writing friends from the Green Gulch retreat also came.
   All in all, we had a great turnout, and the Book Passage people were happy because many of the book titles were sold out!
Speaking about Cixi, The Dragon Empress with Shirin Yim Bridges 
looking amazingly unruffled after her fight with Fleet Week traffic

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


   Woo Hoo!!!! My agent called me this morning with great news! And she worried she was calling too early. No, Karen [Grencik], you can call me at 2 am. with this kind of news!! Charlesbridge Publishing has decided to acquire Goldy Luck and the Three Chans!! What a long road it has been for this manuscript! Just a little recap: it was submitted to Tricycle Press in 2006. Three editors and three and a half years later, Tricycle offered me a contract, but Random House (which had fairly recently acquired Tricycle) decided to close down the imprint. The axe fell quickly. The sad news was released to editors and authors in November 2010, and the editors and staff were gone by the end of January. Out of 30 odd books that were under contract through 2012, Random House may have kept 2 or 3. Goldy Luck was not one of them.
   But onwards and forwards, as they say. So, I sent it to my former editor at Charlesbridge, Yolanda Scott, who reaffirmed that Charlesbridge does not publish a lot of fairy or folk tales, but she liked the multi-cultural theme. She passed the story along to editor Alyssa Pusey who contacted me in March 2011, and indicated she really liked the story. She wrote me a long editorial letter, and I made revisions based on her suggestions. However, after some deliberations at their acquisitions meeting, the Marketing Department was unsure whether Charlesbridge should take the leap into publishing a fractured fairy tale. But, they decided to not make a decision, and shelve it till the fall.
   In June, as luck would have it, Alyssa was going to be at the ALA convention, and we met up for lunch to review the manuscript once more. In the meantime, Karen submitted Goldy Luck to several publishers. Unfortunately, we had two rejections, and never heard back from any of the others.
   But I think Charlesbridge is meant to have this story. I really enjoyed working with them on Otto's Rainy Day, and they treat their authors very well, so I'm ecstatic! Alyssa will be getting the contract to Karen in a couple of weeks.
   This fairy tale may finally have it's Happily Ever After.

The moral? Don't give up. Perseverance is a writer's greatest tool.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


   Just got an email today from the director of the Short+Sweet Festival Singapore that my ten-minute play, "Offing the Witness" has been selected for their 2011 festival. The festival runs the first two weekends in December, so unfortunately, I won't be able to see it. Besides, I was just in that part of the world, so even if I was available, probably wouldn't incur the expense to fly out there.
   However, I've passed it along to my family, and they in turn have passed it along to Singapore relatives/connections. It's also close enough to Kuala Lumpur that my Mom said she might head down to Singapore to see it. 
   I'm hoping that I'll get a taping of it so I can post it here. 
   I'll be posting updated show times when I get them. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


   Beautiful day at the Sonoma Book Fair today! Last year, it was blistering hot at this event. We had a good spot under a shady tree, but I felt sorry for those who appeared to be sweltering in the heat. This year, though, it was so cool and breezy that I had to keep my sweater on most of the day.
   Goosebottom Books shared a booth with K.O. Books, the publishing imprint of author/illustrator, Kathryn Otoshi, the author of the popular One and Zero books, and publisher of our very own goose, Liz Hockinson's (Marie Antoinette, Madame Deficit) first book, Marcello, The Movie Mouse. Dastardly Dame Goose, Mary Fisk Pack (Cleopatra, Serpent of the Nile) arrived in full Cleopatra garb and looked absolutely fab. Cleopatra was definitely our big seller today!
   At noon, I headed to the Redwood Writer's Circle where I got to set up at a book-signing table. Not much in terms of sales there, but I had fun chatting with the two writers at the tables next to me. I did sell one Otto's Rainy Day though. Ah well. One is better than none.
   Mary and Liz did a reading of their books at the children's circle. It was very fun to listen to. Great job, Lady Geese!
   I think overall, Goosebottom Books had a decent day in sales, and we all had fun wallowing in the literary atmosphere.

Monday, September 12, 2011


   This retreat is always such a "treat". Since March, when I stayed the extra Thursday night for the first time, I've decided to stay the three nights whenever I can. It makes a huge difference having that additional day to write uninterrupted, and it doesn't feel as rushed. It's hard to get much writing done on the first day because I'm trying to get settled in, and I'm tired from the drive. So, it's nice to get two whole days of writing time in. 
   This time I was scrambling trying to complete my picture book manuscript so I could send it to the SCBWI Fall conference for the manuscript critique. But I was really stuck. This is why writers need conferences, workshops, and retreats like Green Gulch—you get to connect with other writers. YA novelist Lisa Schulman (her new book, League of Strays, is coming out in fall 2012 from Amulet Books/Harry N. Abrams) was in the room next to mine. She read my manuscript and offered many great insights, and ideas which got me unstuck enough to complete the manuscript, at least to the point where I could send it off for the manuscript critique.
   Lisa also read Cixi, The Dragon Empress, and came up with really good ideas to use in book readings and school visits, such as having a "secret box", like the emperor of China, in which I can have kids put their names, then draw out the "emperor" at the end of the event, and playing "telephone" with the kids (if the group is small) as a precursor to a talk about the effects of spreading rumors. Thank you, Lisa, and keep the ideas coming! If anyone else has great ideas for school visits, please post them here. I'd love to hear about them.
   As usual, we had a collection of wonderful writers, both frequent attendees of Green Gulch and new ones. We were a particularly chatty group, and there were many informal social gatherings in the atrium living room. The meals, usually stellar, was disappointing at times (some dishes were way too salty), but as always, I'm appreciative anytime someone else gets to cook.
   I set out copies of Cixi, The Dragon Empress, and postcards and flyers for the Oct. 8 book launch in Corte Madera. Everyone took a postcard, and quite a few said they would come, so I'm hoping we will get a good turnout at our big event.
   The rest of the time I worked on my Sacajawea manuscript. I checked in with home every night on Skype. Love Skype! So, I don't have to trudge in the dark anymore to the spooky phone booth tucked behind the Green Gulch Farm office. Brian juggled all the soccer schedules like a champ. He's such a wonderful, supportive husband when it comes to giving me my writing time. But he's a terrible first reader. Ah well...that's what writing friends are for.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


   My agent recently sent me another rejection for my picture book manuscript, but no word yet from about 8 other editors we've sent it to. Well, I guess I can take solace in the fact that Charlesbridge Publishing hasn't outright rejected it yet. It's still sitting with them, and hopefully will go back to acquisitions in the fall for another round of discussions. 
   For all of you who've been in the same boat—the Black Hole of publishing, waiting for what seems like eternity for responses that may or may not come, collecting countless rejections, just remember that perseverance is the Name of the Game. And does reap rewards—sometimes big ones.
   Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, received 60 rejections from agents before  agent Susan Ramer took her on, and sold it to a publisher three weeks later. Read her story here. It became a bestseller and now a movie.
   Here's another one of my favorite articles about famous writers who have been rejected: http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers.
   So don't despair, don't give up, believe in yourself, your story, and good things will come. Most importantly, keep writing!

Monday, August 15, 2011


   I was interviewed by Rhonda Knight on blogtalk radio today, and am happy to report that I did not sound like a total dork on the show. She erroneously introduced me as a motivational speaker, so just to be clear on this point, if any of you are motivated by what I have to say, fantastic! But motivational speaker, I most definitely am not! Nervous though I was in the beginning, I really did enjoy my chat with Rhonda about books, writing, and Cixi, The Dragon Empress
   For those of you who missed it live, you can listen in here. Click on the one that says, "Sharing with us-authors Dana Davis..." She interviewed me first, but I'm listed after pastor, author, and motivational speaker, Dana Davis, so you can't see my name right away. 
   Also, the bulk of my interview is in the first segment, but she wraps up with a few more questions for me towards the end about how I balance my writing with motherhood, so fast forward to close to the end if you want me to "motivate" you on this aspect. Ha. Ha.
   I would love to know what you think, so please leave me a comment.

Listen to internet radio with RhondaKnight on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, August 7, 2011


   Ahh...my last day of the conference. How time flies! I got to the hotel early today so I could have a decent breakfast at the restaurant before the day got underway.
Literary agent panel: Shown
from L: Tina Wexler, Marcia
Wernick, and Tracey Adams.
   The workshop began with a panel of 4 agents: Tracey Adams, Barry Goldblatt (who's also Libba Bray's husband), Marcia Wernick, and Tina Wexler, discussing the state of children's books, and what they'd like to see come across their desks (great writing with unique voices—no surprise there!) Gary Paulsen's keynote speech was amazing! This guy has competed in the Iditarod (he told a very funny story about his 1st Iditarod, his maniacal lead dog, and getting lost in downtown Anchorage), trapped animals in the wilderness, and been attacked by moose. When does this guy have time to write? But he is so darn prolific! 
Gary Paulsen
   I attended Beverly Horowitz's (Publisher of Delacorte Press) workshop on acquisitions and revisions. She suggested that authors do their research, and find a specific editor to send their manuscript to, and question why each scene is in the book, not just because we think it's cool or that teens might want to read it. Kids can spot a fake a mile away, so be honest with your stories. Most importantly, she says, give them a sense of hope.
Me and my agent, Karen Grencik
of Red Fox Literary Agency
   My agent, Karen Grencik, and I met up for the Golden Kite Award luncheon. It was fun to see our peers go up for their awards, and the 40th year anniversary chocolate dessert was yummy! 
   The afternoon workshop was Krista Marino's (Delacorte Press) on Finding Your YA Voice. Marino talked about the several components of the narrative voice: diction, perspective, characterization, and dialogue, which is different from your authorial voice. YA is a teen experience. Once your adult voice takes over, it's no longer a YA. A longer discussion on her workshop and crafting Voice will appear in the September issue of the SCBWI California North/Central online newsletter, The Acorn. It won't be posted until the end of the month, but click on the link to check out the next issue and previous issues.
   All in all, the SCBWI Summer Conference was exhausting, but truly inspiring! Thank you SCBWI for all you do for writers and illustrators of children's books, and Happy 40th anniversary!


  A truly brilliant day of conference speakers and workshops today, starting out with the fabulous Donna Jo Napoli who talked about the need for writers not to shy away from writing difficult stories about kids going through tragic, depressing, terrible things. Sometimes those stories need to be told, especially for kids in dreadful situations, so they know they're not alone. She stressed that "We must write not only from our place of joy, but of pain." 
   This was followed by David Small who showed excerpts of his graphic autobiographical novel about his difficult childhood. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. But he ended with a whimsical, hilarious take on booksignings with a chain bookstore vs. an independant bookstore. I love his humor, and the way he can look at himself and present himself in such an honest, open way.
   Then the BIG surprise of the conference—which wasn't such a surprise anymore because Lin Oliver let the cat of the bag yesterday—and much anticipated appearance by the one and only Judy Blume. Lin conducted a casual, breezy chat with Judy on plump yellow love seats a la Oprah. Judy was so personable and unassuming, I felt like she could have been sitting in my living room having a chat with me! She was totally endearing and charming, and I loved knowing that even she struggles with plot and not knowing where she's going in her writing at times.
   The workshops with Libba Bray on creating characters and Verla Kay on using the internet to promote your books were extremely helpful. Verla had handouts,  website information, and lots of sources—the kind of workshop I love because there is something tangible I can take home. Check out her message board here.
   I did the smart thing today, and snuck up to Starbucks outside of the regular break times so the lines were not so long. I picked up my breakfast as well as a sandwich for lunch, thus avoiding the extremely long lunch line. I met two fellow attendees and engaged in some very stimulating conversation about the digital future of publishing, the need for perseverance, plot and structure and other writing struggles. Thank you, Abi Estrin and Steve Micciche for making it such a pleasurable lunch. Steve writes poetry on his blog: www.poetryfortoughguys.blogspot.com. Check it out!
Keynote speaker Jon Scieszka
   After lunch, keynote speaker Jon Scieszka had us all rolling around in the aisles with his photographs, stories of his childhood, excerpts from his books, and experiences at school visits. He has a great sense of humor. Then there was Norton Juster and Mary Pope Osborne whose talks were both inspiring and encouraging—It was like Oscar night for writers!
   I skipped the pajama party though. I just didn't have any more energy, and ended up falling asleep on the couch at my brother's place where I'm staying, watching a program called, "When Fish Attack". Okay, it's a bit morbid, but fascinating, especially when a 40 foot Right Whale breaches and lands smack right on top of your sailboat, or a pilot whale drags you thirty feet under, or a 100 lb. Marlin jumps out of the water and stabs you through the mouth. You don't feel so bad falling asleep because when you wake up, you can pick right up where you left off—more fish jumping out of the water and spearing people. Yes, a tad morbid, but sometimes you need those shows...

Friday, August 5, 2011


The huge California Ballroom at the Hyatt
Regency Century Plaza
The first day of the SCBWI annual summer conference was exhilirating, inspiring, overwhelming...and exhausting! They had a record number of attendees—1300 of them—3 levels of conference rooms, and a lunch line so long you thought you were at a JK Rowling book signing. 

I attended a multicultural workshop with Rukhsana Khan, one on navigating the turbulent waters of picture book publication with Laurent Linn, and listened to motivational keynote speakers, Bruce Colville, Jerry Pinkney, and Emma Dryden. But my favorite part of the day has to be the keynote presentation by Libba Bray, who was terrifically funny and her recollections of spending a year writing the "wrong" manuscript before she got it right was truly inspiring, and a reminder that to succeed in writing, one needs the 3 P's: Patience, Perseverance, and Persistance. 
Faculty members waiting to introduce themselves

Keynote speaker Bruce Colville

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Two of my ten-minute plays are in production this month: 

Playing with Knives (already previously performed in Ukiah, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Australia) will get additional stage time at the Tapas Short Plays Festival in Rio Nido (by Guerneville), Aug. 26 to Sept. 25. Performances will be at the Pegasus Theatre.

Get your tickets here. Bring a picnic supper to eat on the charming patio before the show, and enjoy a glass of wine and some delectable home-baked desserts at intermission.

Flavor of the Month, the first ten-minute play I ever wrote will have a renewal of sorts. It was originally produced and performed at Mendocino College's 3rd Annual New Plays Festival in 2005, but has not been re-submitted—till now. There were 3 versions of this play. The one submitted for FireRose Productions' Ten Minute Play Festival is a different one than the one performed at Mendocino College. Personally, I prefer this version, and FireRose Productions has always done a fabulous job! The Festival runs from Aug. 18 - Aug. 27 with two different set of eight plays for each weekend. Flavor of the Month is in Group B, Aug. 25 - 27. There will be a special "Best of ..." performance on Sunday, Aug. 28, for the plays voted by the audience to be the best plays of the Festival. Playing with Knives made it there once in 2009.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Attendees congregating around the
Goosebottom Books booth
Busy, busy morning. We had a lot of traffic by our booth, got to meet many wonderful librarians and educators. Anne and I handed out numerous postcards and introduced  the Goosebottom books and the upcoming Dastardly Dames series which got much attention. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day! But all in all, Id' say it was a very productive morning. The afternoon slowed down a bit, but I did get to have a book signed by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kids author, and listened to a panel discussion with Rick Riordan, his illustrator, producer of the Percy Jackson audiobooks, and the actor who voiced Percy Jackson in the audiobooks.
The Small Press section of ALA
Rick Riordan (in purple shirt) panel discussing what it
was like turning Percy Jackson into audio books

Charlesbridge Publishing editor Alyssa Pusey (left) and I at the Charlesbridge booth

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Breakfast was at the well-known and ever-popular Cafe Du Monde this morning. Three scrumptious beignets, café au lait, and 1,000 calories later, we were heading to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to set up our booth with all our books, flyers, posters, and booth paraphenalia. 

Lunch at the Court of Two Sisters
The convention didn't officially start till 5:30 pm., so after arranging our booth, we had time for a leisurely lunch at the Court of Two Sisters. It's one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans, not because of the food, but because of the setting. The tables on the enclosed patio courtyard are draped with white tablecloths and nicely shaded by green umbrellas. A jazz band plays in the background. The buffet encompasses your standard breakfast fare like eggs, bacon, hash, and grits to freshly roasted sliced turkey and beef to the cajun favorites of shrimp creole, gumbo, and jambalaya. And if you're brave enough to try crawdads (also known as craw or crayfish) for the first time, it comes with personal instruction by your waiter on how to eat them. We listened with rapt attention as the waiter at the next table explained the hows of effective crawdad consumption. Mostly, it involves ripping the little guys head off with your teeth, then sucking the juice from its innards. One woman at that table exclaimed, "You mean I have to put my mouth on his head?" 
    "Yes, Ma'am," the waiter replied politely. 

This may not be the best food in town, but it's rare to find a place with better biscuits. They just melt in your mouth!

Setting up the Goosebottom Books booth
The convention hall is huge. Goosebottom Books was all the way at one end in the small press section. On our right was the Maggie McNair booth, a series of three children's picture books self-published by its author Sheila Booth-Alberstadt, a mother of six. 
On our left was another self-published author who wrote a book about a werewolf on a college campus. Yet another self-published author—actually a father and daughter team, Ryan and Anna McKinley—offered their book, The Pirate Bride. They couldn't be at the convention, so the table was manned by a family friend.

The opening of the ALA saw a stream of excited librarians and attendees eager to check out available literary titles at this year's convention. We received much interest and many compliments about the look and design of our books. The Dastardly Dame series drew some "oohs" and "aahs" and a few chuckles, and "I love its". All in all, a good start!

Friday, June 24, 2011


In New Orleans for the American Library Association (ALA) conference! I love this city: the great food, fabulous jazz, exquisite balconies and distinctive character of the French Quarter.

I'm here with Goosebottom Books publisher, Shirin Yim Bridges and editorial assistant, Ann Edwards. We'll be setting up a booth for Goosebottom Books tomorrow. Should be a packed, but fun-filled weekend. 

The flight was uneventful, and after catching a little well-needed snooze, I did manage some research for my Sacagawea book. We made a brief refueling stop in Los Angeles where I met and chatted with Jay Asher, the author of the controversial Thirteen Reasons Why at Starbucks (where else?) He's presenting at ALA.

Editorial Assistant Ann Edwards (L) and
Publisher Shirin Yim Bridges perusing the menu
at Cafe Amelie

Once on the ground, we dropped off our bags at our hotel in the French Quarter, then strolled around and found an outdoor cafe for dinner. Hmm...crab cakes and chicken gumbo in a pretty courtyard—can't beat that for a first night in New Orleans!

We found a bar with some great jazz playing—Jamil Sharif and his band. They were awesome! I bought his CD to bring home. Nothing like a little New Orleans jazz to spice up the evening.

The Jamil Sharif jazz band playing at
Maison Bourbon on Bourbon St., the bar
with the self-proclaimed "Best Jazz in town"

Shirin and Ann on our stroll around the
French Quarter

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Sometimes, when people find out I'm a writer, they ask, "So, where do you get your ideas from?" Call me weird, but I like to browse the sheriff or police log in my local paper. The advantage of living in a small town is:
  1. Rush hour traffic is rare
  2. You run into people you know all the time at the post office, grocery store, library, coffee shop.
  3. Crime is minimal
And the criminals are stupid. Seriously. Truth is stranger than fiction. You can't make this stuff up. 

Like the guy who recently stole a bunch of stuff from a store , and when chased by the police, ran into Starbucks and locked himself in the bathroom. Now, anyone who's a frequent customer of Starbucks, like I am, knows that their bathrooms don't have windows. There's one way out of there—through the door. Talk about painting yourself into a corner! It must have been one of the easiest nabs for our guys in blue.

Then, there's the guy who shoplifted from the grocery store, and tried to make his getaway in a...wait for it...motorized shopping cart. Yep, you know what I'm talking about. The sit-down cart with the basket in the front that goes putt putt down the grocery aisle at two miles per hour. And when the cop walked up to him, and told him to get off the cart, he leapt off and attacked the officer! Now, he's charged with shoplifting and assault. Go figure.

If this doesn't end up in a play or story somewhere, it was at least good for a few hearty chuckles.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011


   My picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress will be released in October 2011. 

The last empress of China, Cixi, fought ruthlessly to isolate her country from the West while cloistered inside her lavish Forbidden City, ignoring the needs of her people. But was the Dragon Empress evil or just out of touch?

Gorgeous illustrations and an intelligent, evocative story bring to life a real dastardly dame whose ignorance brought a centuries-old dynasty crashing down, ending the imperial system that had ruled China for millennia.

Take a peek inside the book: Cixi Facebook page

Post a comment on this blog post and earn a chance to win a free signed copy! 
(Winner will be picked at random and selected in August).

Everybody else will get a 10% discount off the retail price of the book.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


   If only publishers were so speedy in their responses. I mailed my application for an SCBWI grant that would help fund the cost of attending the annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles on Friday, April 29. The application had to be postmarked by May 1. I received an email on Monday or Tuesday, informing me that I was one of 3 recipients for this $750 grant. Yipee! So, I'm all registered and booked on a flight to L.A. in August. Unfortunately, the flights were pretty expensive, so the grant didn't cover all the transportation costs, and to save money, I'm staying a my brother Jason's pad in Santa Monica. He won't be there, but he offered me the use of his car too.
   "So," I said. "Do I get to drive the porsche then?"
   "Er..Let me clarify...you get to drive the station wagon."
   Oh, right. Still...it's a BMW wagon which beats my soccer mom mini-van anyday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


    I have two articles out this month. "Horses Helping Others", my non-fiction article just appeared in the May issue (Horsing Around) of Appleseeds magazine. Appleseeds is a social studies magazine for kids 8 - 11.

and my article, "Curtain Call" about Mendocino College's annual New Plays Festival appeared in the Spring issue of Mendocino Arts Magazine.

It's always great to see your name in print!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


   May Day weekend was a busy weekend for me. On Friday, April 29, my husband, eleven-year old daughter, and I met up with my sister in Cotati at the small, but intimate, home theatre of Linda and Harry Reid to watch the first Redwood Writers' Ten-Minute Play Festival. My ten-minute play, "Offing the Witness" was first in the line-up. Directed by Lennie Dean and featuring a talented cast of Guy Slater, Saskia Baur, Paige Picard, and Alana Raymond, the actors nailed their lines, the pacing sparkled, the audience laughed in all the right places, and everyone looked like they had fun to boot. So gratifying! 
   This was a fundraiser for the Redwood Writers, a branch of the California Writers' Club, started in 1909 by Jack London and a couple of friends. The price of the tickets included hor d'oeuvres and drinks provided in the Reids' lovely well-manicured backyard which made the whole event feel like an English garden party.
   Saturday, April 30, was the Mendocino LitFest, a literary event held on the campus of Mendocino College in Ukiah. It offered a round-robin poetry reading and writing workshops. I co-taught a workshop with my friend, novelist Jody Gehrman called From Picture Books to YA: the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing for children. We had around 20 workshop participants, but it's challenging to say the least to try and cover the whole range of children's book publishing in 50 mins. We had fun though!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I sent a picture book manuscript to my agent a couple weeks ago. She thought it was a "darling" story, but told me that in today's market, it wasn't enough anymore for a story to be good and well-written. Editors want to know: Who is your target audience? She wasn't sure who the target audience was for this book.

Which got me thinking. Picture book. Kids, 4 - 8? Isn't that who the target audience is? Not anymore, apparently. Now, writers have to narrow their audience more specifically. Is it for boys or girls? Disabled kids? Kids who are bullied? Kids who live on farms? So, how do you decide who your target audience is and finding the right publisher for your manuscript?

Here are some links on the issue:
  Finding the right publisher for your children's book
   Publicize your Book: Target Audience

If anyone finds any other sites that are helpful in determining the target audience of a children's book, please let me know or post a comment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


      It's amazing how the publishing world can turn on a dime! On March 15, I received an email from Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency declining to represent me. I then sent my manuscript to agent Karen Grencik, who's impressive in her response times, and how quickly she replies to emails. She said she thought the story was adorable, and by March 21, I had signed my first agent contract!
   In the meantime, I received an email from Alyssa Pusey at Charlesbridge Publishing, and she's very interested in Goldy Luck and the Three Chans. She had some editorial suggestions to develop the story further for "acquisitions", so we've been tossing some ideas back and forth, and I'm currently revising the manuscript. But if all goes well, I may have found a new home for Goldy Luck after Random House unceremoniously abandoned it.
   However, based on that experience, I shouldn't let myself get too excited until I actually see the book in print! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011


   I went to the Tricycle Press send-off party in Berkeley on Friday. Despite the sad reason for the gathering (to say goodbye to the Tricycle staff), the mood was generally upbeat. I got to meet my editor, Joanne Taylor, see writing friends/acquaintances, and meet some lovely new people, one of whom is literary agent, Karen Grencik, who I thought was very open, friendly, and warm. I'd love to have her as my agent, but I think I should wait for Ammi-Joan Paquette's response first since she's asked for more of my work for consideration. We did exchange business cards, though.
   I discovered that, depressing as my case may be (Random House cancelled my contract shortly after I signed it), there were other writers who were in a worse situation—some who received their very first publishing contract, one author's book was slated for a fall 2011 release and was just about to go into production, another whose book already had all the illustrations completed. All these were not retained by Random House.
   Ahh...so turns the cruel, cruel world of publishing...

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Harbor Bridge across Sydney Harbor
     I'm out here in sunny Sydney, Australia for the Short+Sweet Ten-Minute Theatre Festival to see the production of my play, Playing with Knives, a special gift from my parents who have travelled here from their home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to meet me. 
    We arrived on Australia Day, kind of like our Independance Day, a national holiday, so people were out in droves enjoying the various parades/festivities, and the music venues set up along the picturesque waterfront.
   We checked into a performance at the Sydney Opera House (they're doing Madame Butterfly), but only the $300 tickets were left. Ouch! We did walk over there though, and had a dinner at a café under the opera house.
Sydney Opera House
   My dad's cousins live in Sydney, so they acted as our very gracious tour guides, introducing us to restaurants and neighborhoods not frequented by tourists. We also met up with my ex-brother-in-law, Graeme, who also lives here. We had lunch and dinner in Chinatown, and he came along with us to see my play at the Newtown Theatre.

   Unfortunately, the theatre was up two flights of stairs so my dad, who is in a wheelchair, could not get up to see it. The good thing was that Playing with Knives was the second play after intermission, so Mom sat at the outdoor café next door with Dad while Graeme and I watched the first half, then Mom came up after intermission and got to see the play. I'll have to post the play on YouTube when I get the DVD, so Dad can catch it then.  All in all, it was a well-done production/performance, and we enjoyed it. 
Flyer for Playing with Knives
They listed me under my married name though

At the Newtown Theatre 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


   Okay, my publication contract has been cancelled. I was now faced with two choices: I can get really depressed and wallow in self-pity, or send the darn thing out into the publishing world again. I figured I had done what I could do: write the story, edit it a zillion times, submit it, work with editors to edit it a zillion more times. Everything else that had to do with Tricycle Press closing was beyond my control, and there was no use harping on it. So, I made the revisions that Joanne Taylor had suggested, and sent it to my former editor, Yolanda Scott, at Charlesbridge Publishing (Charlesbridge doesn't publish many folk tales/fairy tales, but Yolanda thought the multi-cultural twist was interesting so asked me to send it on), and to three agents: Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary+Media, whom I had met at the Asilomar Writer's Conference, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, both of whom I met (at different times) at the SCBWI Northern California Writer's Conference at Mills College.
   Stephen emailed back very quickly and said the work wasn't a match for his list. Ammi-Joan thought it was a cute story, and asked to see more of my work. And Kelly Sonnack never responded which, according to the Andrea Brown Lit. Agency website, means they're not interested in representing you. 
   I sent Ammi-Joan another picture book manuscript and the 1st three chapters of my Young Adult novel for review. 
   Sigh. More waiting...