March 11, 2013

March Update: JANM Panel, Nikki Grimes, and more!

I attended a poetry class by esteemed poet Nikki Grimes at the SCBWI March 2013 Writers Day conference! Read my blog for more details!

Hello from the writing batcave! I recently left the confines of my writing batcave to attend a wonderful class on “Novels in Verse” by esteemed poet NIKKI GRIMES for the March 9-10, 2013 SCBWI Writers Day conference. I also will be sneaking out of the batcave on Saturday March 23rd to be a panel speaker at the “BEYOND THE BAD & UGLY: STEREOTYPES AND ASIAN AMERICAN POP CULTURE – A SUMMIT” at the Japanese American National Museum. Keep reading below for more details…


On March 10, 2013, I had the honor of attending a poetry master class workshop on “Novels in Verse” with bestselling Coretta King Scott award-winning poet and children’s book author NIKKI GRIMES. I have always dreamed of trying to write a novel in verse and thought this class would be a wonderful way to test the waters. This class was one of several workshops offered at this year’s WRITERS’ DAYS weekend conference sponsored by the Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators.

Nikki provided us with homework – we had to write character sketches of four characters (two had to be ages 7 to 9 and the other two had to be teenagers). We also had to read the following books that would be used in her lectures: Nikki Grimes’ Dark Sons and Oh Brother! as well as Helen Frost’s Diamond Willow and the classic Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

Her class covered the structure she uses to write both picture book poetry collections and YA novels-in-verse. She read a lot of poems from many different authors and analyzed them. She had us do several writing exercises which involved both brainstorming, outlining, and actual writing of poems. By the end of the class, we had a topic outline plus some rough drafts of poems for our future books. Fun trivial pursuit fact: We also found out she is a huge fan of Bravo’s Top Chef! What’s not to love about the totally awesome Nikki Grimes? :)

Even though I myself am a published author, I truly believe that you can ALWAYS LEARN MORE and GROW as a writer. You can never stop learning when it comes to writing. I also like to learn about genres where I am a novice, poetry and novels in verse being an area I have never written in before. Even if I never end up writing or publishing a poetry novel, the writing craft advice I learned in Nikki’s class was still helpful and applicable to my own comfort zones of children’s prose & YA novels and TV/movie scripts. I recommend you try to take classes in genres you have never worked in before as a way to think outside the box for your own projects!

I also highly recommend taking one of Nikki Grimes’ classes whenever she teaches in your area. I also love her writing, so please check out her website here to find out more: For more information on SCBWI, go here:

Below are some pictures of the day’s events with my friends and fellow SCBWI members/author pals JENNI BIELICKI, CLAUDIA HARRINGTON, SARA WILSON ETIENNE and LEE WIND. (Please click on each name to see their websites.)

Me & poet/writer Jenni Bielicki brainstorming new ideas for our poetry projects!

Authors Sara Wilson Etienne & Claudia Harrington sharing what they learned at their classes at the SCBWI Writers Days conference!

Writer and SCBWI advisors Claudia Harrington and Lee Wind did a great job helping out and organizing this weekend’s SCBWI writing conference!

The amazing Nikki Grimes autographed some of her books for me. YAY! :)



I am excited to be one of the speakers at Jeff Yang’s “Beyond the Bad & Ugly: Stereotypes and Asian American Pop Culture – A Summit” on Saturday March 23rd at the Japanese American National Museum. I’ll be on the 2 PM breakout panel “What We Teach And Show: Taming Tigers: Getting Beyond Stereotypes in Parenting and Education” with Daren Mooko (Moderator), associate dean of students, Pomona College; Julie Kang, blogger, Geisha School Dropout; Cynthia Liu, cofounder, K-12 News Network; Jason Sperber, cofounder, Rice Daddies; Paula Yoo, author, Good Enough; producer, Eureka.

For more information on the conference, go here:

For more info on the Japanese American National Museum, go here:

JEFF YANG is an old friend and journalism colleague who has written several books and is currently a Wall Street Journal columnist. Please visit his site here where he is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal:

Below is all the information on the conference plus a schedule. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog about the event later this month!


In 1914, Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian American actor to break through on the silver screen, appearing in movie pioneer Thomas Ince’s silent classic The Typhoon, and launching a career as one of the most popular and well-paid stars in the nascent Hollywood industry, albeit in roles that consistently depicted him as villainous, violent and manipulative. As he put it himself, “I want to be shown as I really am, and not as fiction paints me….My one ambition is to play a hero.” 

Ninety-nine years later, Asians and Asian Americans have a much greater presence in U.S. popular culture — but they are often represented in ways that Hayakawa would recognize and lament: Silent thugs. Sexless nerds. Predatory temptresses, calculating conspirators and impossibly strange foreigners.

Organized by Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal Online columnist and editor-in-chief of the new graphic novel anthology SHATTERED, which uses the medium of the comics to explore and explode unyielding stereotypes of Asians in pop culture, BEYOND THE BAD AND THE UGLY gathers together some of the brightest and most interesting Asian American creators, and critics, activists and academics in a unique one-day summit that begins by looking back at the heritage of Asian images in American media and society, and ends by looking ahead — discussing new ways to prevent distortions and present more vivid, humanized, three-dimensional portraits of Asians and Asian Americans to a wider and more accepting audience.

9:00AM-9:30AM: Registration (Continues throughout the day)

9:30AM-10AM: Brief Welcome by Dr. Greg Kimura, President and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum; Jeff Yang

10AM-11AM: Opening Plenary: Is This Stereotype Really Necessary?
Keith Chow (Moderator), editor at large, Shattered
Parvesh Cheena, actor, NBC’s Outsourced
Beau Sia, poet and author, The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time
Andrew Ti, blogger, Yo is this Racist?
Jen Wang, blogger, Disgrasian
Gene Yang, graphic novelist, American Born Chinese and Level Up

11AM-12PM: Keynote Conversation: Orientations
Professor Jack Tchen (Moderator), author, New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882
Jack Shaheen, author, Reel Bad Arabs; former CBS News Middle East consultant and Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
William F. Wu, author, The Yellow Peril: Chinese-Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940

12PM-1PM: Keynote Conversations: Sextypes
Jeff Yang (Moderator), columnist, Wall Street Journal Online, editor-in-chief, Shattered
Helie Lee, director, Macho Like Me, documentary on six months as a man
Keni Styles, adult film star

1PM-2PM: Lunch Break

2PM-3PM: Breakouts A: “What We Teach and Show”
Taming Tigers: Getting Beyond Stereotypes in Parenting and Education
Daren Mooko (Moderator), associate dean of students, Pomona College
Julie Kang, blogger, Geisha School Dropout
Cynthia Liu, cofounder, K-12 News Network
Jason Sperber, cofounder, Rice Daddies
Paula Yoo, author, Good Enough; producer, Eureka

Screen Adjustments: Getting Beyond Stereotypes in Media
Jocelyn Wang (Moderator), blogger, 8Asians
Stephen Dypiangco, National Film Society
Patrick Epino, National Film Society
Brian Hu, artistic director, Pacific Arts Movement (organizers of the San Diego Asian American Film Festival)
Jerry Ma, art director, Shattered
Steve Nguyen, Channel APA
Jude Narita, theater artist and activist, From the Heart

3PM-4PM: Breakouts B: What We Do and Say
Move This: Campaigns That Work
Lisa Lee (Moderator), blogger, Thick Dumpling Skin; diversity program manager, Facebook
18 Million Rising (Jenn Pae/Cynthia Brothers)
Eileen Chow, Visiting Associate Professor, Duke University
Generations of War (Traci Akemi Kato-Kiriyama, founder, Tuesday Night Café)
Racebending (Michael Le)

The Politics of Perception
Ling Woo Liu (Moderator), executive director of the Fred Korematsu Institute
Tanzila Ahmed, voter engagement manager at Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Jay Chen, Hacienda Heights school board member, congressional candidate

4PM-5PM: Special Panel A: When is it Okay to Laugh? Ethnic Humor that Works
Jenny Yang (Moderator), comedian, organizer, DIS/ORIENT/ED comedy tour
Kiran Deol, director and comedian
Andrew Fung, The Fung Brothers
David Fung, The Fung Brothers
Joe Luu, comedian
Greg Watanabe, 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors

Special Panel B: Man Bites Dog: How Stereotypes Shape the News
Richard Lui (Moderator), anchor, MSNBC
Leslie Berestein Rojas, Immigration and Emerging Communities reporter, Southern California Public Radio
Mei Fong, Pulitzer Prize winning former reporter, Wall Street Journal
Wendy Lee, Business Reporter, Southern California Public Radio
Andrew Lih, associate professor, USC Annenberg School of Communications
Co-presented with Asian American Journalists Association – Los Angeles

5PM-6PM: Closing Plenary: Changing the Game
Oliver Wang (Moderator), cultural critic, Assistant Professor of Sociology, CSU-Long Beach
Christopher Chen, producer, Linsanity
Jay Caspian Kang, editor, Grantland; author, The Dead Do Not Improve
Ted Kim, EVP, CJ Entertainment America
Deepa Jeeva, head of production, YOMYOMF Network
Mike Le, creator and executive producer, K-Town
Benson Lee, director, Planet B-Boy and Battle of the Year: Dream Team
Parry Shen, actor, Better Luck Tomorrow; managing editor, Shattered

6PM-6:30PM: ”All In” Closing/Roundtable

6PM to Closing: Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology Reception (Open to all attendees and others by invitation)


Thanks for reading today’s blog. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog report on the March 23rd conference at the end of this month. Also, a reminder – my fifth annual NATIONAL PICTURE BOOK WRITING WEEK (NaPiBoWriWee) will take place this May 1-7, 2013. More details to come here: (The latest blog is here:

Until the next blog, as always, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! :)

2 Responses to “March Update: JANM Panel, Nikki Grimes, and more!”

  1. Lee Wind says:

    Hi Paula – Nikki’s intensive workshop sounds amazing. Glad you enjoyed, and you’re so right about there always being more to learn!

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