Friday, May 20, 2016

A Whirlwind Month: Book Release, Blog Tour, Big Sur at Cape Cod

May has been a whirlwind of book events, a blog tour, and an amazing writing conference. Although I knew it was coming for a couple of years, nothing quite prepared me for the blur of events. A recap:


On April 30, I had a book launch at Prince Books, in Norfolk, VA, coinciding with Independent Book Store Day. So many of my friends came to help celebrate, and we had a tai chi demo:

I'm acting like a real author signing my books

The sign outside the store

Christina Forshay made coloring pages

Our tai chi demo
Some of my good friends at the signing


For a three weeks, I annoyed my Facebook friends by the seemingly nonstop coverage of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, because we arranged a 14-stop blog tour.

We first started with the debut of our trailer for the book on Watch. Connect. Read., the blog of Mr. Schu, Scholastic's Ambassador for Libraries.  Christina Forshay and I made the trailer ourselves, and we're pretty proud of ourselves for learning new animation skills:

Then we found ourselves on these sites. I tried not to repeat myself so each post focused on slightly different things.

April 22 - Kidlit411 (about my career choices)

April 25 - Design of the Picture Book (Carter Higgins interviewed both Christina and me)

April 27 - Miss Marple's Musings (Joanna Marple and I chatted about diversity)

April 29 - Susanna Leonard Hill  (benefits of yoga/ tai chi/ mindfulness for kids)

May 1 - 12 x 12 Featured Author (writing advice for Julie Hedlund's challenge)

May 2 -  Inky Girl (Debbie Ohi and I talked about my dad's debut memoir)

May 3 - Tuesday Tours (Christina Forshay talks shop with Andrea Skyberg)

May 4 - NaPiBoWriWee (social media, alien invasions, diversity with Paula Yoo)

May 5 - Writing and Illustrating (with Kathy Temean)

May 9 - My First Picture Book Q & A (in depth about writing the story with Karlin Gray)

May 10 - ReFoReMo (how I use mentor texts with Carrie Charley Brown)

May 11 - Three Show Saturday (personal fun questions with Kizzy Roberts)

May 12 - All the Wonders (Christina and I interview each other, with Matthew Winner)

May 13 - No Water River (ReneĆ© LaTulippe reviews the book in her inimitable style) 


A week after the Prince Book event, I had a story time at my local Barnes & Noble, with another tai chi demo. Even though the book is not carried in all B& it was great to see it at this store.

The sign in the window
Set up at the entrance to the kids section

I added the book to this shelf for the photo op

Signing the book after story time

A tai chi demo with the children


Last weekend, I attended a workshop put on by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of the most highly respected agencies for children's literature. This was the first year they held it on the East Coast. About 50 writers and 9 faculty members (a mix of Andrea Brown agents, children's publishers, and published authors) attended.

We were each placed in two separate critique groups with one faculty member and 4 other writers. Each group met twice to critique each other's work, and time was provided to make changes between the groups. We also attended several panel discussions.

I was placed with agent Caryn Wiseman and editor Yolanda Scott (of Charlesbridge Publishing). They were both insightful, smart, and supportive.

Some of the faculty on a panel discussion
In addition to the great feedback on my manuscripts, the best part of the conference was connecting with other kid lit people, especially three other members of my online critique group, Teresa Robeson, Alayne Kay Christian, and Victoria Warneck. We spent a lovely time together at the beach:

Here we are contemplating our next picture book manuscripts

We also met other kid lit friends, both ones we had met at other conferences or online, or just new friends:

We had a memorable dinner where our table scarfed up lobster sliders as quickly as we could get them. 
I particularly enjoyed meeting one of the faculty, Anne Sibley O'Brien, picture book author & illustrator known for her multicultural books. She met with the illustrators during one of the lunches and we had an informal mentorship session.


While preparing for those events, I spent two weeks at the end of April organizing an annual used book sale at my daughters' school. We started off with about 3,500 donated books in boxes:

Which we sorted by topic:

And ended up with a pop up bookstore for five hours (on Field Day, which happened on the same day as my Barnes & Noble signing, so I ducked out of one to go to the other and back):

Then we dismantled it in a couple of hours and repacked all the unsold books to donate to charity. This year we made about $2,000, selling the books at $2 apiece (and doing a silent auction for baskets of books & items).

The best part of this job is just seeing all the wacky books that were donated, like this one:


So I'm enjoying a brief breather before the next round of activities, including a 25th college reunion (next weekend), family visits for a 6th grade graduation (mid-June), many weekends for travel softball (now thru mid-July), teaching a class on writing picture books at The Muse Writer's Center (over the summer) and two more A MORNING WITH GRANDPA events:

Monday, June 13: A book signing party in Washington, DC

Saturday, June 25: I'm signing my book at the American Library Association convention in Orlando, FL

Life is tiring, busy, but good.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy Spring: A Morning with Grandpa Release & Norfolk Academy Art Show 2016

Although it still feels like Winter, Spring is coming in with a bang for me.


The official release date for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, written by me and illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books) is May 1, but books have already arrived at my local indie store, Prince Books, and Amazon is fulfilling orders.

So it's really real now! Seeing my book on the shelf at Prince Books (above) was a thrill.

I went in to sign some pre-orders:

And then this weekend, I got my box of author copies! Apollo was the first to enjoy them:

I'm looking forward to my book signing party at Prince Books on Saturday, April 30, from 4-6 p.m.  We've got a tai chi demo planned, which should be fun.

And to celebrate the launch, I will take part in a multi-stop blog tour, beginning on April 22, with the website I help run, Kidit411.

I'm also excited that my good friend Alayne Kay Christian gave a nice review of the book on her blog recently: Unearth Your Protagonist's True Goal, Plus A Morning with Grandpa Has Been Released!


Each year, I take part in my girls' school's annual art show, featuring about 80 local artists. I didn't have a lot of time this year to come up with four completely new pieces of work, so I re-worked a few older ones, and did a new collage piece:
Here Be Lionfish © Sylvia Liu

Home © Sylvia Liu

Stay © Sylvia Liu

This is the collage and painting technique I'm playing with now:

I Dream of Kraken © Sylvia Liu

The art show is the same day as my book signing, at Norfolk Academy, April 30, at 6 p.m.  Hope my local friends will stop by one or the other, or both!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cats on My Mind: A 5-Day #artchallenge

This week I was tagged to do an #artchallenge on Facebook, which was to post five pieces of my art per day. It didn't have to be newly made art, but I decided to doodle my cute new kitty, Apollo:

© Sylvia Liu
Then my sister asked me to do her two cats, Ezio and Pumpkin, so I did that for Day 2:

© Sylvia Liu
Having started this theme, I decided to paint a friend's kitty, Loki:

© Sylvia Liu
And my friend Elaine's cat Blaine:

© Sylvia Liu

Finally, my friend Yvonne's cat, Pip:

© Sylvia Liu
As you can see, I evolved from a cartoon style to a more painterly one. It was fun to revisit my artist roots of painting which is a different style than my illustrations.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Meet Apollo: our new Siberian Kitten

Apollo is our new Siberian kitten. I never thought we would have a cat because my husband is very allergic to them. As a Christmas present, he researched hypoallergenic cats and this breed came up and now we have a cat. He is still somewhat allergic, but only when he handles him, and it's much better than most other breeds.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 In Review: Health, Hope and Creativity

My motto for 2016

In the past, I've reflected on my creative year and was grateful for my creative communities (2013) or my very creative family (2014). This year, I focus on lessons learned in 2015:

Friday, December 18, 2015

How I Got My Agent: Dow Phumiruk

I'm excited to interview Dow Phumiruk, an online friend I met through several kid lit communities. Her art is luminous and we featured her on Kidlit411 last year.
She talks about how she landed her agent, Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency.

Monday, November 30, 2015


A very exciting development. My debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA got its first review, in Publisher's Weekly. Check out the full review here. It's a good one!