Showing posts from June, 2007

Summertime And The Living Is Easy

Hiking the hills, sipping icy lemonade, swinging on a hammock with the new Harry Potter book, late, slow sunsets, chasing fireflies -- I'm taking a break from the Fire Escape until 9/1/07. Sparrow (who's a teen and thus must stay connected) will be posting sporadically throughout the summer, but apart from that, I'm going to read, write, pray, listen to my iPod, and hang out with the hubby, kids, and labs. My only book-related event is a West Coast Book Launch and Bhangra Party for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover hosted by the San Jose Public Library on Wednesday, August 1st from 1:30 - 5:30. Stop by if you can. Otherwise, I'll be checking my email if you need me. ¡Que vaya con Dios!

Name That Bollywood Blogger

Presenting ... the video from my book launch party for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover at the D.C. public library during ALA. I recognize Fuse, Mother Reader, and Judy O'Malley (editor at Charlesbridge) in the front row, but can anybody identify the other hip-shaking, wrist-twisting beauties?

Poetry Friday: Contest Winners

I'm delighted to present the winners of the Fire Escape's 2007 teen poetry and short fiction contests. Congratulations to the writers, and to all who entered. The 2008 contests open 9/1/07. Feel free to browse through the best poems from 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and prize-winning stories from the past.

Sparrow Gets Skewered on Slate

Columnist Bruce Reed portrays my main character as a fawning Romney groupie ... so Sparrow offers her rebuttal here. Meanwhile, Galleycat's Ron Hogan seems a lot more comfortable with my attempt at a character blog.

Kent Brown on Authenticity

La Bloga interviews publisher Kent Brown (Boyds Mill Press, Highlights for Children) about multicultural literature.

Cover Design: My Peeps Have Spoken

Sparrow and I both asked which cover you liked better for book two in the First Daughter series (White House Rules, Dutton, January 2008), and you responded: sixteen of you picked Sparrow in green (22%), and fifty-seven of you picked Sparrow in red (78%). Thanks for all the comments and votes! I'll tell my editor Margaret Woollatt, and she'll voice your opinion as they make the final cover decisions.

APALA Children's Book Awards

The Fire Escape is delighted to announce the children's literature winners of the 2007 Asian Pacific American Literature Awards:
Annie Sibley O'Brien's graphic novel The Legend of Hong Kil Dong (Charlesbridge) for illustration.

Justina Chen Headley's Nothing But The Truth And A Few White Lies (Little Brown) for text.Grace Lin's Year Of The Dog (Little Brown) received an honor in text, and Brothers (Philomel), written by Yin and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, received an honor in the illustration category. Hooray for these wonderful books, writers, and artists! Also, congratulations to Alvina Ling, who edited both of the award-winning books in the text category.

Mitali and Justina celebrating at ALA

Starred Reviews: A Writer's Whine

A good review comes in, and I'm thrilled. In fact, I've been so fortunate that I can't remember a single horrible review of any of my books. Oh, sure, a line or two (or three) have made me wince and even gasp in dismay, but on the whole, reviewers (in print and on the web) have liked my novels. But it seems the gatekeepers have never ADORED anything I've written, because I've got no stars on my writer's belt. None. Zilch. I tell myself, "It doesn't matter. What really counts is the reader who connects with your characters." Or, more pragmatically, "Who cares about stars? What really matters is sales."

At ALA, I heard other sparkle-free writers murmuring wistfully about how starry authors are wined and dined by publishers and driven here and there in hired cars. I can't complain much because nowadays Charlesbridge spoils me rotten. My big worry about being constellationally challenged is that it might keep libraries from buying my book…

Libraries Win Free Books!

I promised five free books to libraries who linked to Sparrow's blog before pub date, and I'm delighted to announce the winners:
Beaverton City Library, OregonWesterville Public Library, OhioMamaronek Library, New York
West Bend Library, WisconsinBellingham Public Library, WashingtonI'll be sending signed copies addressed to the YA departments, posting the winners of my contests, and then, at the end of this week, the Fire Escape is emulating the fabulous cyber-diva Cynthia Leitich Smith and going on hiatus for two months. Sparrow will still be posting, though, as she'll be traveling (with me) across the country and back in a rented RV.

Bollywood Bloggers, Librarians and More

A HUGE thanks to the D.C. Public Library for hosting my First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover book launch party last Saturday during the ALA Convention, and to all the friends who came and danced and showed me the love. We missed those of you who couldn't make it. A few first photos (YouTube video coming soon):

The bhangra lesson:

Yun-hee reads my book for the camera:

Name that blogger:

Name the blogger who owns the purse:

Off to D.C.!

The samosas have been ordered. Let the games begin.

Poetry Friday: Help Me Choose The Winners!

I've been judging the 2007 Fire Escape Teen Poetry Contests, and am overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of entries. I've managed to narrow the entries to those I think are the four best poems. I've already ranked them in my head, but I'd love your input before I award the prizes. Which of the poems after the polling box deserves first place in the contest?

The House at the Top of the Hill
Anugraha Heights
(View Results)

by Sophia J.

In Chinese folklore, there was a boy who heard
upon his first day of calligraphy study
that one is a horizontal slash. Considering himself clever, he
deduced that each consecutive number
would merit an extra line,
and found no more need for education
not when the stream outside
and all its silver-throated fish enticed him,
and his fingers itched for the hook, the worm, the kill.

My parents, so eager to impound in me the validity of
"try hard, work long, no play"
went on to describe the old …

Sparrow's Site Stats Go Wild!

Thanks to a comment on Sparrow's blog by Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards setting things straight about her daughter Emma Claire's joke, Wonkette, TPM Cafe, Time-CNN, ABC, and others linked to yesterday's post. Lesson learned: these days, luminaries are skimming blogs just like everyone else, which means they're listening to small voices like ours.

Photo Source: Steve Garfield

Elizabeth Edwards and Sparrow Chat

I had no idea how important blogs were going to be to the candidates when I started sparrowblog. This morning, my character's site got hordes of visitors searching for "Edwards' Daughter picks Hillary," or some other such nonsense. Now it looks like someone identifying herself as Elizabeth Edwards stopped by and left a comment on Sparrow's post to clarify. Is it her? Or somebody pretending to be her? Lots of loony imposters stalking the web these days, like me, pretending to be Sparrow ...

UPDATE: Apparently, the comment was from was Elizabeth Edwards, and my site stats are going bonkers!

Roker Picks Swordbird

Thirteen-year-old Nancy Yi Fan's bestselling fantasy, Swordbird (HarperCollins, February 2007), is the new Today Show's children's book pick.

My Character Is Getting Bossy

How bad is it when a fictional character you've created tells you do something and you do it? Yesterday, Sparrow announced that YouTube and CNN want us to submit questions to the candidates before the next set of presidential debates. And so, without further ado (and no rehearsal, obviously), I asked my son to film my 30-second question:

What a great project for teens this summer. If you scroll through the submitted videos (mine didn't seem to make the cut -- must have broken the rules somehow), you'll see plenty of fresh, young faces and ideas from first-time voters.

Can U Bhangra Like Kashif?

Can't wait to watch my kaboodle of librarians and blogger buddies dance like this guy:

If you can't make it to the party, we'll upload a video of our own to YouTube for your enjoyment.

Old World Taste Buds: Mangoes and Lemons

They say that as immigrants mingle and marry and their descendants melt into the American soup, the last identifying sign from their countries of origin is a sense of taste. Could that be why I (and my sons) can't do without various jars of mango and lemon pickle? (Yes, that Taj Mahal imitation is completely made of lemons, courtesy of the Annual Lemon Festival in Menton, France. Source: Sepia Mutiny).

And for those who might be staying in D.C. after ALA, here's an option: check out the first-ever Indian mango tasting festival this harvest season, held June 27 during the Global India summit. India produces 58% of the world's mango crop, but you couldn't find any sign of them in North America ... until now. To really enjoy a Bengali langra, the juices must drip down your chin as you devour every last piece of flesh, discarding the pit only when it's white and bald (nothing personal intended, my white bald readers). Of if you prefer to peel and chop into chunks, her…

ALA, DC, SBBT, and other Abbreviations

Thanks, thanks, and more thanks to, the D.C. Stanford Club, Sepia Mutiny, MotherReader, Zee, YALSA, Liz, Fuse#8, and others for announcing my book launch party at the D.C. Public Library next Saturday. There's still room to squeeze in, but please RSVP so I can plan the food. I'm ready to bhangra, are you? Politics and Prose Bookstore is providing copies of First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, but they'll only have a few on hand so mostly we'll be dancing like this:

I'll also be signing copies of Rickshaw Girlat ALA's annual convention in D.C. from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday at booth #2910. Stop by and say hi if you're in the vicinity.

Sameera closed out her blog tour today over at Sara's Holds Shelf. Meanwhile, I had a great time being interviewed by the astute Kelly Herold as part of the SBBT. Here's the full schedule, courtesy of Master Organizer Colleen Mondor:

Sunday, June 17Gene Yang at Finding WonderlandMonday, June 18Tom & Dorothy …

International Books For Kids and Young Adults

Want a book of fiction about a particular region or country for a particular age group? Here's another great resource: the University of Arizona's International Collection of Children's and Adolescent Literature.

Summer Blog Blast Tour

Put on some reggae, grab your sunglasses, and head out with us on the 2007 Summer Blog Blast Tour, during which over 25 young adult authors will be hosted by the best kid lit blogs on the planet. I'm going to be interviewed here (Monday, June 18), and here (Wednesday, June 20), and here (Thursday, June 21).

Photo Source: Nicholaus Haskins

Fly, Sparrow, Fly!

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover releases today! Please smash a champagne bottle against your computer screen and rejoice with me (okay, skip the champagne and stick to the rejoicing). Godspeed, my little novel in the big scheme of things.

Sparrow's Amazing Blog Tour

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover's main character Sameera Righton is taking a whirlwind tour to some outstanding blogs. Here's how she got booked, and here's her schedule:
Monday, 6/11: 5 Minutes For Mom and Jennifer Snapshot
Tuesday, 6/12: Big A little a
Wednesday, 6/13: Semicolon
Thursday, 6/14: Jen Robinson's Book Page
Friday, 6/15: Little Willow
Monday, 6/18: Sara's Holds Shelf

Book Trailer: Take Two

Get the YouTube version here.

PaperTigers: A Chat With Aline Pereira

With the launch of PaperTigers' new blog, I invited Aline Pereira, editor of the award-winning, resource-rich site, to talk about her vision and vocation.

Q. Tell us about your journey to this land where children's literature is beloved. When did you start reading? How did you end up as the managing editor of the site?

A: I have always loved reading and writing, which I have been doing ever since I can remember. When I came to San Francisco from my native Brasil in 1996, after living in Portugal for some time, the first thing I did was join a writing group of non-native speakers writing fiction in English. To this date those co-writers are my closest friends... But before moving to Portugal and then here, I was working as assistant manager at a bookstore in Rio de Janeiro that specialized in art and children's books. It was the first bookstore in Rio to have a café, readings, music performances... It was a remarkable place to be. Lots of positive, creative energy...

In San Fr…

Rhode Island Library Conference

I'm off this morning to my last speaking engagement of this academic year, the RILA Conference in Providence, which happens to be about a mile from the nearest Nordstrom's. May have to stop in and pick up a new dress for Sparrow's book launch and bhangra party at the D.C. Public Library during ALA ...

48 Hours of Books: RU Ready?

Grab a juicy peach or two, find the nearest hammock, and read the weekend away by taking Mother Reader's Second Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. Read the rules here.

Sparrow's SLJ Review

Here it is: "...Sameera is a savvy and appealing character, and while teen girls will love reading about her makeover, they will also come away with a sense of the demands made on those who are constantly in the public eye."

Book Trailer: Take One

After following a link from Galleycat yesterday to this post about creating book trailers, I decided to play around in iMovie and see what I could do for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover. Here goes (all feedback greatly appreciated, you can see a re-tooled version over at Sparrow's blog):

Trailer budget: $0
Knowledge of iMovie before yesterday: nil
Time spent: 6-8 hours while kids were at school
Galleycat link: priceless

Intangibles you might gain if you try this: major leap in respect for trailer storytellers; humility if the video you, a writer by profession, upload contains a major typo (you can still see mine on the Galleycat site's video; I fixed it here after a kind viewer pointed it out.)

Note: permission pending from Emi April Music for 1-time use of 2 minutes of Ms. Key's song.

Announcement: Paper Tigers Blog

PaperTigers (visit the award-winning site on multicultural books for young readers) announces the launch of a fabulous new blog. Note to novice bloggers: stock blog with content before going live and you just might make it on blogrolls everywhere.

L.M. Montgomery Conference: Call For Proposals

June 30, 2007 is the deadline for proposals for the 8th international conference on L.M. Montgomery. "L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables and the Idea of Classic" is set for June 25-29, 2008 at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.

From the conference organizers:

Imagine Pippi Longstocking, Heidi, Nancy Drew, Tom Sawyer, Tarzan, and Harry Potter at one gathering. What is a classic and what popular books will become classics? In 2008, we invite you to consider Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the very idea of "classic" itself. What does the word "classic" mean to young readers today and why does this matter? You may want to consider Anne of Green Gables in relation to other phenomenally best-selling books that had or have a cross-generational appeal but did not or may not last through time; you may want to think about Anne of Green Gables readers as part of a "fandom" and how this readership compares with other fandoms.…

Boston Globe / Horn Book Awards 2007

Books For Latinos and Students of Color

La Bloga interviews author and SCBWI Ventura Regional Advisor Alexis O'Neill (Estela's Swap / Lee & Low) about creating authenticity in picture books from the outside. "The words and images must ring true to people within that culture in terms of syntax, behavior, beliefs and dress," says O'Neill.

And from blogger Crazy Quilts (who describes herself as "an African American female librarian hoping to improve the literacy of urban students") comes news of The Latino Book & Family Festival and a list of '07 School Reads for Students of Color.

This Is Not Your Parents' Arranged Marriage

Two Weeks To Pub Date: Win Free Books!

Contests abound on the Fire Escape (2007 teen poetry and short story entries are due TODAY), and it's not because we South Asian types have a penchant for word-oriented competitions. My novel First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover releases in TWO weeks, and I want to give away ten books to celebrate. (You may read the first chapter here if you'd like.)

Five libraries (school and public) can win free signed hardcovers on pub date by linking to and sending the most visitors to Sparrow's '08 campaign blog before June 14, 2007. Right now, the libraries in the lead are:
Beaverton City Library, OregonWesterville Public Library, OhioMamaronek Library, New York
West Bend Library, WisconsinBellingham Public Library, WashingtonTHIS SUMMER: Five more libraries and/or schools win free signed books as visitors come to Sparrow's blog and leave the name of a library and/or school they love in the comments from June 15 - September 1.