A Chinese “Toad” hops onto my shelf

Remember those delightful students in Taiwan, who wanted to translate my book ONCE UPON A TOAD into Chinese as part of a class they were taking?  (click here to read about it)

Well, the story has a very happy P.S.

A friend of my husband’s was traveling to Taiwan on business recently, so I got in touch with the girls and asked if I might be able to have a copy of the translation for my bookshelf. They very kindly scurried around and had one sent to the hotel where my husband’s friend was staying, and he brought it back to the U.S. with him. He lives in L.A., so it took a little while longer to get here to Portland, but it was worth the wait!

Toad 1

Isn’t it fabulous?

I love seeing the title and my name in Chinese.  What a beautiful language!  Wish I could read it.

Chinese Toad

My favorite part is at the back of the book, where the students included several pictures of the translation work in progress…

Toad in progress

… along with that great shot of them showing off the finished product. You’ve already seen this one in a previous post but I can’t resist posting it again.  Just too cute!

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Congratulations, girls — you did a wonderful job, and I’m thrilled to have my very own copy!

Toad 2

 

 

 

Gained in translation

Several months ago, a group of students at Chung Jung Christian University in Taiwain approached me to see if I’d allow them to translate ONCE UPON A TOAD into Chinese, for a class they were taking in translation and interpretation.  Since it was for academic purposes only, I gave my permission, and earlier this week I received this:

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Success!  Are they adorable or what? Look at those beaming faces and beautiful smiles — you can see how pleased they are with all their hard work.

cover

I am, too — I just wish I could read Chinese!

 

 

Toad treats

Are these adorable or what?!

Toad treats

I had a Skype visit this afternoon with a delightful group of moms and daughters from Iowa, and LOOK what they made for treats in honor of my book ONCE UPON A TOAD!

That’s the only drawback to videoconferencing — I miss out on all the treats.  🙁  These are some of the most hilarious and wonderful I’ve ever seen.  Toads made out of kiwi, grapes, and dried plums?  On lettuce leaf lily pads? TOO CUTE!

 

 

Monday musings: Inside the shell of character

I love buying eggs from my next-door neighbor.

Aren’t they lovely?  So many different colors! On the outside, anyway — inside, eggs are eggs.  Lisa has at least four varieties of hens running around her yard, maybe even five or six.  It’s so much fun to look out my kitchen window and see them scurrying to and fro in search of bugs and other good things to eat.

We used to have chickens, too, but they eventually went into chicken retirement.  (You can read about that here.)  They provided not only eggs (and amusement), but also food for thought.  Click here for a link to a blog post from a few years back that was inspired by a little backyard observation.

That’s the best kind of observation, really, isn’t it?

So what does this motley dozen nesting on my kitchen table tell me today?  Well, perhaps that despite our outward trappings–race, nationality, gender, faith, age, political leanings, etc.–on the inside, where it really counts, we’re all the same.  As a writer, I’ve learned that it’s the inside of my characters that counts, too. Whether I’m writing about a girl on an adventure at sea in 1835 (THE VOYAGE OF PATIENCE GOODSPEED), a mouse who dreams of being a secret agent and the fifth grade boy who helps her out (THE BLACK PAW), modern-day stepsisters on the receiving end of a spell gone terribly wrong (ONCE UPON A TOAD), or a whole cast of moms and daughters who end up reading the classics together (THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB), it’s the heart of the matter that’s most important.

Sure, I need to pay attention to details like dress and appearance and mannerisms and all that.  It’s part of my job (and a very fun part, I might add) to make the window dressing as interesting and alluring as possible.  But what is it that really connects us to those who live out their lives on the written page? What is it that makes some characters wrap themselves around our hearts?  Think Charlotte and Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web.  Or India Opal Buloni in Because of Winn-Dixie.  Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.  

It’s what’s on the inside, isn’t it?  It’s their hopes and fears and worries, their dreams and yearnings.  Those “inside the egg” things that each one of us can relate to, and that ultimately connect us all.  So when you’re writing, be sure to crack open that shell and breathe life into your character from the inside.

Give your character a heart, and it will speak to the heart in your reader.

 

 

 

 

 

Kind words

I’m b-a-c-k!  Did you miss me?  I’ve been on a trio of back-to-back trips, and am home again for a bit before I hit the road once more.  Busy summer ahead…

Before I tell you about my travels (look for more on that tomorrow), I want to share some lovely reviews of ONCE UPON A TOAD.  Thank you, bloggers extraordinaire!

Click here to read one from Hannah, and here to read another from Book Aunt (love that name!).  Texas librarian Pamela Thompson, YA reviewer for the El Paso Times, was generous with her praise:

“Clever, cute, quirky, and good clean fun, Once Upon a Toad delivers non-stop laughs and outrageous antics!”

Wow — thank you, Pamela!  (Click here to read the rest of her review.)

Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews loved it, too — click here to read what this 13-year-old reviewer had to say.  And check this out — Flamingnet selected my book for a “Top Choice” award!

I’m blushing from all the praise…

 

Win a copy of ONCE UPON A TOAD!

Today only, hop on over to Writer Mama Every-Day-in-May Book Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of ONCE UPON A TOAD!

Christina Katz is featuring my new book in her fun month-long giveaway, and today is my turn in the spotlight.  There’s a brief interview and then Christina poses a question (I totally ♥♥♥ the one she picked for you, and I can’t wait to read all your responses!).  Answer it ON HER BLOG (not here) to enter the giveaway.  Click here to head on over to Writer Mama.

Off you go — have fun!

 

And the winners are…

Giveaway judges Billie & Bonnie, ready to do their duty
Hat with names
Hat with names + dog treats (to interest judges)
Selection of winners in process
And we have lift-off!

Out of more than 60 participants in the fractured fairy tale Extrava-TOAD-ganza Giveaway, Bonnie and Billie chose:

Emma — Little Violet Sneakers

Liyah — Cinderella with the Too-Big Shoes

Mackenzie (not Sarah Margaret’s twin) — Princess & the Pea from the pea’s perspective

Congratulations, girls!  I’ll be contacting you shortly to get more information on where to send your prizes!