SORA IS HERE!!
Happy book birthday to Sora’s Seashells!! It took a looooong while for this book to arrive, but it’s finally here. And it’s absolutely gorgeous. A huge thanks to all of you for being with me on the journey, and kudos to everyone who helped usher the book into the world!
The story is about a girl who learns to appreciate her unique name and gains the courage to deal with school bullies, thanks to her grandmother. I can’t wait for you to see the beautiful watercolor images by artists Stella Lim & Ji-Hyuk Kim, and the elegant book design & production by the team at Candlewick Press.
Please join me for these LAUNCH EVENTS!
- VIRTUAL: Friday, May 12 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific — Virtual storytime hosted by Children’s Book World. This will be a short read of the story, with a brief chat afterwards (perfect for the little ones). Register for free here.
- IN-PERSON: Saturday, May 13 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific at Children’s Book World L.A. I hope to see you in person for a fun time plus some surprises & a raffle! Bring all your questions about writing & publishing. Masks are required. Event details are here.
- VIRTUAL: Friday, May 19 at 4 pm. Pacific with the Los Angeles Public Library. Join me for a virtual chat on YouTube Live and you’ll have the opportunity to win a free book, thanks to the generous Library Foundation of L.A. Event details are here and also on the Library’s website. (Be sure to watch the event directly on YouTube to see more details + engage in the Q&A + book giveaway.)
All events are free and open to the public! Here’s a graphic in case you’d like to help spread the word.
I was so inspired by Stella & Ji’s artwork for Sora’s Seashells, that I took a travel watercolor kit during my recent trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i to sketch on the beach.
I used to draw and paint a lot in my youth, but stopped for a long while because of life’s endless distractions (my art supplies were boxed up for over a decade!). But then, my neighbor & good friend Claude shared his amazing art creations, and I realized that I need to honor this important aspect of myself, too.
Some folks have asked if I ever plan to illustrate my own books, and I really appreciate that question (it makes me blush!), but I just make art for fun & relaxation. To be a professional illustrator, you really have to know how to tell a visual story in a sequential way, to convey emotions and movement and facial expressions. I just draw and paint whatever I find interesting in the moment (mostly my dog Sherwin!). But who knows, right? Life has surprised me many times before.
For now, making art provides much-needed calm (like meditation) because launching a book is a pretty stressful and busy part of an author’s life.
And that leads me to the next topic…
One of the Weirdest Things About Being an Author (aka Learning to Let Go)
Writing and publishing are a constant lesson in learning to let go. It’s odd because as a writer, your inner control freak gets to revel in being the master of your fictional universe! You give your characters names, personalities, and you direct their journeys. This can fool you into believing that you have a large measure of control over the direction of your book and your writing career. NOPE!
Once your manuscript is out of your hands, you must let go. If not, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Guaranteed. In the realm of picture books, this is even more so the case, since the illustrations tell much of the story. The artist(s) should have free range to express the visual experience as they wish, without the author’s interference! This is part of the reason why, in most instances, publishers don’t want the authors and illustrators interacting too much during the art-making phase. And in fact, I’ve heard of cases where illustrators quit a project because the author became too overbearing with opinions and demands…whoa. Throughout the making of Sora’s Seashells, there were some key moments when I was asked for input (mostly during the initial sketches of the characters), but for the most part, I stayed out of the way to allow Stella and Ji to work their magic. After all, it’s their book, too.
Now that Sora’s Seashells is out in the world, it’s a time of both excitement and anxiety. The book release was delayed by nearly two years due to unforeseen circumstances — it was originally supposed to be released in 2021! (Again, it was another exercise in learning to let go.) Book release time is when my mind gets noisy with unanswerable questions. Will people buy the book and recommend it to their friends? What will readers think? Will they like it enough to review it? (Reader reviews are notoriously difficult to get, so if you leave a review, thank you from the depths of my heart!).
When my mind starts spinning like that, I know I’m not letting go enough. I have to remind myself that no matter how much marketing & promotion & jumping around I may do, one single author’s actions have very little impact on the journey of the book. My inner control freak must disappear for a while. Buh-bye!
That said, I am SO thrilled to see the book out in the world! What an immense privilege it is to have a story from my imagination take such a beautiful physical form, thanks to the artists and our publisher Candlewick Press. To know that our book is sitting on library and school bookshelves, and held between readers’ hands as they read at night…it amazes me each time! Every book I get to publish is truly a gift, since it seems like only yesterday when I typed away at my computer, wondering if my childhood dream would ever come true. Getting a story traditionally published is a difficult journey, so if you’re in the trenches, I’m cheering you on. During the Rejection Years, I constantly wondered if I’d ever get a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house to acquire my projects. I’ll pass along the advice I heard over and over again: Don’t give up. Rejection is part of the journey. Many writers give up because the rejection can get so painful and frustrating. But your persistence will pay off. And just so you know, the rejection never stops! Even published authors get new projects rejected — I definitely have! The only difference is that publishing companies will (usually) pay immediate attention now, whereas during the Rejection Years, it felt like pounding on one of those large, fortified medieval doors that protect a castle.
Thank you for being here, for all the book love, and for the lovely support and friendship.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…
I’ll be back in a few months with some fun updates. Feel free to send any topic requests my way, and you can be sure I’ll answer with as much insight and honesty as possible!
In the interim, I hope you enjoy Sora’s Seashells, and please do join me at a launch event (or two…or three!).