Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Plain and simple: I would not still be writing without my creative friends. My heart is especially full when I think of my Write Sisters, the very first writing community I was part of: Tricia Gardella, Helen Ketteman, Mary Nethery, Ann Whitford Paul, Dian Curtis Regan and Vivian Sathre. They guided me through my first books and I can never thank them enough for their encouragement and support.

L to R: Tricia, me, Helen, Dian, Vivian, Mary, Ann

Thanks, sweet friends!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom

“I don’t want to write for adults. 
I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read."


Astrid Lindgren


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teacher Tuesday


Today's quiz participant is Kristi Leland, from Queen Anne Elementary in my good old hometown of Seattle Washington. Thanks for playing Kristi!

Please fill in the blank. You should never read and blank at the same time.

You should never read and try to listen to your 10 year old daughter's story.  You'll always get an eye roll in the end.

If you were invited to be on Oprah, what book would you bring for her to read?

Either Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by  Julie Lamana, or I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson.  Oprah book club for kids, of course.

What is the funniest book you’ve read?

Kids: Wayside School is Falling Down, Louis Sachar
Adults: Where'd You Go Bernadette?, Maria Semple

What is the saddest?

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert.  I seriously cried for two days of my vacation in Hawaii reading this book.

Favorite reading snack/beverage?

Coffee and a cookie, or chips and a diet coke.  Depends on what time of day I'm reading.

What’s next on your TBR list?

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Teachers, librarians, reading coaches, principals, custodians, lunch ladies, anyone with school connections: Please play along! Email me here and I'll get you the questions so you, too, can be featured on Teacher Tuesday. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Good News Monday

Congrats to Heather, Joann and Michelle who entered my GoodReads giveaway and each won a signed copy of Dash! And thanks, too, to the nearly 500 folks who entered. I wish I could send each of you a copy.


When I win the lottery, I will. Promise!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friend Friday

I had the pleasure of reading Stacey Lee's Under the Painted Sky in ARC form and was so taken with it that I asked if she would be willing to visit with us here, for Friend Friday. I was thrilled when she said yes! 

Stacey Lee


Staring at the Wall

Most of us writers spend our time in comfy clothes, feet kicked up, staring at the wall. To the untrained eye, it may look like we are doing nothing.  But in reality, we are the flesh and blood vessels in which ideas incubate, ideas that will one day grow into stories.  The wall is a blank space for the mind to wander.  For me, it is even more than that.


My wall measures 8x14 ft.  Above the wainscoting lies a field of 'pressed powder' pink, coated with Idea Paint, a dry-erase whiteboard paint gloss.  One thing I do early in the writing process is create a calendar of my story on my wall.  This helps me organize the time frame in which all the events in my story occur.  I'm constantly shuffling events around, and it's extremely helpful to have a visual understanding of where things go, especially with longer books and complex story lines.

The other thing I do on my wall is stick notecards, recalling the main point/event of each chapter, in chronological order. This usually happens after the first draft, when I'm honing story and character arcs.  I add emotional beats for each character using a different color for each character, again, so I can see how their story is taking shape.  I'm often asked how I keep track of all the things happening in my story.  My wall is the answer.

Actually, there is one more way my wall helps me.  My family likes to leave notes there, including words of encouragement, and pictures. And there's nothing like, say, a monkey with a party hat, to let my imagination take flight.



Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys.  She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul.  A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. 
After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than
moving to Spain.  She plays classical piano, wrangles children, and writes YA fiction. Her historical YA, UNDER A PAINTED SKY, debuts March 17 from G.P. Putnam's Sons. Follow her on twitter@staceyleeauthor.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday



In 1927, each school child in Japan contributed one sen (about half a cent) toward the creation of 58 exquisite dolls. These Ambassadors of Friendship -- soon called Friendship Dolls -- were thank you gifts for the several thousand blue-eyed baby dolls sent to the children of Japan by American school children the prior year. The doll exchange was the brainchild of Dr. Sidney Gulick, a missionary to Japan, who longed more than anything for the two countries he so loved to be friends. He thought that such a friendship could best be built by starting with the hearts of children.


Sadly, his plan did not bring about the positive relationships he dreamed of. At least, not right away. Over the years, some of the dolls have been lost or destroyed. But the spirit of friendship exemplified by these dolls has caught the hearts of many (including me, which is why I ended up writing about them in The Friendship Doll) who have spent time and resources trying to find the dozen or so still-missing dolls.

Miss Miyazaki

I was so tickled when an intrepid librarian in Minnesota finished reading my book and realized that the library in her town had been given a Friendship Doll way back when. She poked around in the basement of the old library and soon found a trunk containing Miss Miyazaki. Sadly, she had not been stored properly and her gofun face -- made of ground oyster shells -- was severely damaged. Repairs are quite costly, partly because of the materials and partly because they must be undertaken in Japan.

Masuru Aoki

This is Masuru Aoki who works for the Yoshitoku Doll Company in Tokyo; he is the individual who oversees the restoration of the Friendship Dolls. My friend Alan Scott Pate (this country's leading expert on the Friendship Dolls) recently visited Aoki-san and kindly presented him with a copy of my book. In the background, you can see there are other hina-ningyo, ceremonial dolls, in preparation for Girls Day.

I love thinking that dolls that were lovingly created so long ago are still cared for today. And I love visualizing Aoki-san's hands as representations of the hands of those craftsmen who, 90 years ago, first made those dolls who were sent on such a hopeful mission.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. 
It's a way of understanding it.

Lloyd Alexander