Winning Weekend

At the Abrams dinner with a giant poster board of Super Boba Café and the only time I wore cute shoes

I’m home after a whirlwind 3 days in Chicago for the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference where I saw exactly one sight (the bean, on my walk to a luncheon). Instead of sight seeing, I reveled in the joy that is found with people of the book. I signed for three of my books (Super Boba Café, Shark Party and Strong) and attended events in between.

Smiling at the Caldecott-Newbery dinner. L to R, me, Samira Ahmed, Jerry Craft and Joanna Ho

At times, being with authors feels intimidating. Jerry Craft is a Newbery winner for his important and wonderful book New Kid. Joanna Ho received an APALA honor for her recent book The Silence that Binds Us. Samira Ahmed is a NYT best selling author for her many titles including Love Hate and Other Filters.

But at ALA, I never thought about their awards or accolades. We may have met for the first time or the 7th but our shared love of words and art connects us. It feels familiar and comfortable. We talk about how to support each other, share tips that only a select few need (like using illustration board for watercolors to prevent buckling) and enjoy each other’s company. As my author friend Jessixa Bagley said, it’s like grown up summer camp.

At the bar with bags of books! L to R: Minh Lê, Christina Soontornvat, Alyson Day, Joanna Ho, me, Mirelle Ortega
After party time! L to R Joanna Ho, Xelena González, Catia Chien, me, Vashti Harrison and Minh Lê

On Monday afternoon I attended the Stonewall Awards because our book, Strong, won an honor. I’ve worked on a number of books as an illustrator with limited contact with the writer. This was not the case with Strong. Eric Rosswood and I became very good friends. We were each other’s accountabilabuddies (say that ten times) during the pandemic, sharing weekly fitness challenges and daily 10k step goals. That blossomed into a beautiful friendship even though we are on separate coasts. Being at the awards with Eric was more emotional than I expected.

Eric and I before the Stonewall Awards ceremony began – he was a mirrorball and I was a rainbow

I am a loving but guarded person. My joke is that I cry four times a year. As we walked up to accept our Stonewall Honor I felt like I would crumble into a puddle.

Holding back tears, reading my thank you speech. I will cry 5 times this year

I spend a lot of time alone, questioning whether the work I do matters, whether I’m worthy/good enough and this moment felt unreal. To stand in front of a room of my community of queer authors, librarians and allies was beautiful. To receive an honor from librarians who champion and share our work is affirming. In a time when Black and LGBTQIA+ books are being challenged, banned and removed from libraries that room represented power, hope and strength.

Signing stacks of STRONG with Eric

After the many emotional Stonewall speeches, we signed books. It’s always a joy to work on books but to be there, sharing the award with my very good friend made it extra special.

I rushed to the airport to catch my flight home full of love, with an almost overweight suitcase full of books and fueled up, ready to get to work.

Nidhi sandwich! With Minh Lê and Xelena González

Rejection 24 +ALA

My summer is definitely not slow!

This weekend I’m headed to the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference for my upcoming graphic novel, Super Boba Café. Recently someone asked why people already have copies of the book? Great question!

Ahead of publishing a new book, Advance Reader Copies (ARC) are released. For Super Boba Café they’re black and white copies (the final book is in full color) and key people like teachers, librarians, booksellers and influencers receive copies. At ALA’s annual conference, those folks receive free copies of ARCs to share with the readers in their lives. It creates great energy and buzz for upcoming books.

Super Boba Cafe marks my first PRINTED ARC. The 12 books prior were available as digital ARCs. It’s very exciting! If you’re attending ALA my events are below.

I will also be at the Rainbow Roundtable celebration for the Stonewall Awards because STRONG received a Stonewall honor. It will be a whirlwind of events and book love!

Hope to see you there!

Happy pride!

I’m thrilled to share that our book, STRONG, was featured in the Boston Globe!

This morning I turned in the final art for Shark Princess 2, my early reader graphic novel series about two shark friends (the first book is out in September). I’m slowly inking pages for Super Boba Cafe, my next middle grade graphic novel about a grandma and granddaughter who help each other face monsters over a summer together.

Over the years, ten books in (!!) when I’m in the process of creation, I remind myself to savor the time. Before reviews deflate my energy or the business side frustrates me… I spend years with my characters, loving them into life. I spend my days hunched over a desk, drawing. Often it’s hard and at times boring but when I look at the work I’ve made, I feel overwhelming gratitude.

My deadlines span into 2025 but my days are spent drawing sharks and boba-loving characters so… it’s a joyful balance.

I hope you find joy in your days.

My first animation!

Our book STRONG releases today!! I made my first animation to celebrate! My schedule is packed for years to come (with lots of comics!) so it was exciting to carve out time to try something new.

I’ve signed copies of STRONG at Books Inc Palo Alto and Alameda as well as Bel and Bunna in Lafayette.


Also, tomorrow May 11th, I will virtually present about my path to art and comics with the Contra Costa library. You can register for this free event here.


I hope you have a wonderful week.

New newsletter and events!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted! I had issues with google groups, which I’ve used for 10 years without fail! I’ve moved to substack. It’s easy and free.

So here are some updates – we’re 2 weeks away from the release of my next picture book STRONG. There are many exciting things happening for it that I look forward to sharing when I can! For now, you can pre-order a signed copy with Books Inc.

Speaking of Books Inc, I will be there tomorrow for a story time, signing and live drawing in support of Independent Book Store day.

And I’ll end this update with a comic about returning to work. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!