Showing posts from May, 2009

Boston Bookish Schmooze 5/31

With Laurie Halse Anderson pouting about not being at Book Expo America (BEA), and the BEA Twitty Party rising into the top ten trending topics on Twitter, a few of us who aren't in New York decided to host a Boston Bookish Tweetup.

When? Sunday, 5.31.09, 2 p.m.

Where? Porter Square Books, Porter Square Shopping Center, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140, (617) 491-2220. Plenty of parking.

Who? Anyone who loves books. You don't have to be on Twitter.

What? Informal chat and coffee, ARC swap, sharing of best social media tips for bookish folk, and Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency is going to talk trends in Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction.

Why? Because we're not at BEA, and feeling sorry for ourselves.


Poetry Friday: New Age

I opened an old folder of poetry and found this one written years ago. Though I'm shy to share my own poems (never studied the craft), I offer it on the Fire Escape this chilly morning.

New Age
by Mitali Perkins

You clutch the faded scraps of cloth.
One they were silky squares of color, strongly sewn.
No use. Too few left. Loosen your fingers.
Watch the wind whisk them away.

You hear a whisper. Sense a shadow.
Smell the fragrance of a stranger’s breath.

A woven cloak falls across your shoulders.
Warmed, you wait for a voice to name a price.
But the air grows still, the leaves, the words in your mind.

The waves are like slate.
You search the quiet waters for the glimmer of a woman.
Do you see her? Clothed in linen, silver-gray, wrought by ancient hands?

Something makes you turn.

Beyond the grass, you see a table set for two.
Candles flicker. A basket lined with linen cradles fresh-baked bread.
Break it; the steam warms your hands.
Chalices brim with ruby wine. Sip the aged sweetness.

Drink your fill, …

Revising Your Author Visits

In some communities, if you know someone who knows somebody, or are a writer, you show up in the local classroom and talk about your work.

Not so in Newton, Massachusetts.

Yesterday, I showcased a presentation called "RICKSHAW GIRL and ALPANA ART" to sixty or so parent volunteers. Newton Public Schools' Creative Arts Director Cheryl Nelson (who has served in this capacity for 21 years) invited me to be a "surprise" guest during their annual celebratory brunch.

Basically, I'll say yes to anything this talented, experienced woman asks me to do in the schools, even though I'd much rather address a cavernous auditorium of kids than a cozy living room of adults. Grownups make me nervous; kids don't. But I owe a lot to Ms. Nelson.

Five years ago she got me started by previewing my LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES presentation for the fourth grade immigration unit. It wasn't very good back then. But her insightful suggestions helped me make changes that (1) engage bo…

My Top 5 Tweets Last Week

I share links about children's and YA books with my followers on Twitter. These were the most popular tidbits in my twitter stream last week:
Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein spells out her submissions guidelines and what she's looking for:

Kids' Book Events at BEA

Wanna tour the blogs when your YA/Kid book releases? Start by reading the best bloggers in the kidlitosphere now:

2K9 debut MG and YA authors interview their editors (i.e., Joy Peskin/Viking, Jim Thomas/RH, Reka Simonsen/Henry Holt)

Editorial Anonymous says the Coretta Scott King Award race-based criteria is racist, and commenters leap into the fray:

Last Call For Poetry Entries

Here's the third prize winner from last year's contest (read the first-place poem and second-place poem) to remind you that the deadline for submission to the 2009 Fire Escape Short Fiction and Poetry Contests is June 1st. Please pass the word to teen writers between cultures.

For Your Pathos

by Miranda, China/USA, Age 17

you will pound mettle into me
before our years are over—
I sometimes wonder
if this is your intent, or
you have failed even yourself.

at one time
yours were my only margins,
and I fit snugly
between the lines of your page.

your stark nakedness of mind
was protected only
by the thin threads that bound us.

but soon, you snapped and were felled
by your own
thin daggers.

I resent you
because you remind me
of what is impossible.

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Susan Taylor Brown.

RICKSHAW GIRL Goes the Distance

My first novel for younger readers (as opposed to teens), published in 2007, is doing okay. Here are some of the reasons why kids in several states are reading RICKSHAW GIRL 2-3 years after publication:
Nominated for the 2010 New York Charlotte Children's Book Award

Nominated for the 2010 Oklahoma Sequoyah Award

Nominated for the 2010 Arkansas Charlie May Simon Award

Nominated for the 2010 Rhode Island Children's Book Award

Nominated for the 2010 South Carolina Children's Book Award

Nominated for the 2010 Children's Crown Award

Nominated for the 2009 Massachusetts Children's Book Awards

Maine Library Association Lupine Honor Book Nice, right? The advances and royalties might be heftier if I wrote for adults, but this particular book has showcased two financial advantages of writing for kids:
the buying power of educational markets, k…

rgz LIVE! tonight with Laura Resau

Laura Resau, author of RED GLASS, is chatting with readergirlz tonight, Wednesday, May 20th, 9 o'clock EST/ 6 o'clock PST at the readergirlz blog.

Pop in and out of the chat as you watch Idol, chat with Laura about anything under the sun, and find out how she felt about all those awards and starry reviews.

RED GLASS was inspired by "over ten years of friendships with ESL students, immigrants, and refugees who shared their stories and showed how a person can live a meaningful, joyful life despite past traumas and losses." Here's the book description:
One night Sophie, her mother, and her stepfather are called to a hospital, where Pablo, a five-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Pablo was carrying the business card of Sophie's step-father - but he doesn't recognize the boy. Crossing the border into Arizona with seven other Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pablo and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pa…

Hone The Craft in New England

For serious writers of children's books and YA fiction, New England offers a wealth of opportunities this summer to work on craft. We're a gorgeous destination for those who live elsewhere. Why not combine work and play? Here are three retreats and conferences, but feel free to add more in the comments:
Cape Cod Writer's Conference

The 47th Annual Writers Conference will take place August 15- 22 at the Craigville Conference Center in Centerville on Cape Cod. This year's double conference allows participants to attend for three OR six days of classes along with the usual opening night, keynote speaker night, afternoon/evening Master Class for each conference, plus readings by faculty and attendees.

Two three-day conferences allow the Center to compress the usual five meetings over one week (for the 7.5 hour courses) into three 2.5 hour meetings. This format allows for twice as many courses, smaller classes (class size capped at 18), and courses at different levels.

Faculty …

My Top Five Tweeted Links

Most of you know I microblog about YA and children's books on twitter. I post timely links there, and allows me to track which are the most useful to my followers. Here are five recent tweets pointing to links garnering at least a hundred clicks each:
The @bridgetzinn auction is heating up. I got outbid on the cookbook. For now. My book launch consult is going for $250:

Top ten SF/Fantasy novels for teens published in the last 12 months (picked by ALA Booklist's Gillian Engberg)

Four debut YA novelists face the music with reviews in Publisher's Weekly:

Survey of tweens and books from @ypulse: 42% borrow books, 35% buy from bookstores, 3% from Amazon. More results here:

List of YA bloggers on twitter:

2009 Skipping Stones Honor Awards

My award arrived in the mail yesterday from editor Françoise Bui, along with a copy of Skipping Stones Magazine's review of SECRET KEEPER:There's nothing I enjoy more than a good love story, but I didn't expect to be so emotionally pulled into this tale. I was spellbound by the details ... It was a book that both educated and inspired ...
This is one of those awards that dovetails with my personal vision as a writer, honoring books that "promote cooperation and cultivate an awareness of our diverse cultures." Thank you, Skipping Stones!

Here's the full list of multicultural and international awareness honor books. Download this .pdf to see the list of nature and ecology books. Reviews of all the books are in the magazine's Summer 2009 issue.

52 Days by Camel by Lawrie Raskin with Debora Pearson. Annick Press. Ages 9-13.

A Boy Named Beckoning by Gina Capaldi. Carolrhoda Books.Ages 8-12.

As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Raul Colón. Alfred …

Book Talks on YouTube

A Brooklyn Public Librarian exploits the draw of YouTube (where the teens are at, yo) to book talk a novel (which happens to be mine):

Here are some other examples of libraries who are using this social media tool to share books with teens:
Appleton Public Library Book Talk PlaylistMitchell Public Library's Digital Book TalksArlington Public Library's Book Talks by Teens and LibrariansBook Talk Interviews with LaGrange YA Public LibrarianFairfax Public Library BookTalksTIP: If you label your book talk video series with a tag like "librarian fail," teens will arrive by the hordes. Of course, you'll have to fall flat on your face at the end of the clip.

A Boston Summer of Children's Books

And you thought all the exciting stuff in the children's book world happened in New York! Check out these upcoming events and opportunities in the Boston area for fans, writers, and those who care about the next generation of storytellers.


May 16: Children's Book Week Celebration at the Boston Public Library

This Saturday from 10 a.m. — 1 p.m., in the Rey Children's Room of the Central Branch (700 Boylston Street, Copley Square), bring your kids to meet (in order of appearance) Alan Witschonke, Megan McDonald, Erin Dionne, Linda Urban, Michael Rex, Paul Carrick, Jarret J. Krosoczka, Kate Feiffer, and Sara Pennypacker. Find out more here.

May 19: The FCB presents New England Voices at Boston College

On Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., in BC's Walsh Hall, the Foundation of Children's Books presents New England Voices, an annual event featuring area authors and illustrators reading from their new work and spotlights new talent in the field of children's li…

Call For Entries: New Voices Award

LEE & LOW BOOKSis on the hunt for excellent submissions to their tenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD, given for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color.

Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices Award submissions published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist selection; and Bird, an ALA Notable Children’s Book.

The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500.

The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children's picture boo…

Fire Escape Poetry Contest Winner

In honor of Mother's Day, and to remind you that the deadline for submission to the 2009 Fire Escape Short Fiction and Poetry Contests is June 1, here's the second prize winner from the 2008 Poetry Contest:

Mother's Burden

by J. Javier, El Salvador/USA Age 17

Heavy snoring at night after a long day's work,
you soldier on through the quagmires of life.
Cries of children all day, teenage tantrums at night,
you swim your deep dark oceans,
force painful new strokes into the water,
no man to appreciate your agony,
burden of your beauty.

Arthritic legs from weeks of caring for strange babies,
yet you run through sword sharp fields of elephant grass, unharmed.
Dirty-diapered mornings, dirty-dished nights,
yet you carry our family on your embracing wings,
flying through green-back storms,
no man to understand your struggle,
a selfless burden.

Puffy, red eyes after years of working every day of the week,
yet you guide my hands to the lighted door in life's dark caves.
steps missed at sunrise;…

Launch Your Book For Bridget

Beloved librarian and YA author Bridget Zinn is battling cancer, and the kidlitosphere wants to help. Bloggers, illustrators, and authors have donated books, critiques, art, and signed first editions of bestsellers, and are bidding on them as well. Now it's my turn to offer something. Organizer Jone MacCulloch and I went back and forth on several options before deciding on this:
Personalized Book Launch Consult
by Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins is offering a personalized book launch consult using the latest social media — spreading the word about your book and events on twitter, Facebook, and even setting up a blog tour.

Mitali Perkins has written several novels including Monsoon Summer, First Daughter, and Secret Keeper. She’s often invited to present sessions for writers about branding and internet promotion because, as she puts it, she’s discovered the “power of her inner geek.”

Value: $100

Opening Bid: $50Bid here. I'll help you launch your book with a bang, I promise.

Crossed a Border Lately?

"Reading makes immigrants of us all," said Hazel Rochman. "It takes us away from home, but, most importantly, it finds homes for us everywhere."

Check your nightstand. How far are you traveling in your fiction? Here's my border-crossing challenge. Share the title of a children's or YA novel you've read recently or plan to read featuring a protagonist who (a) wasn't born in your country of origin.

Then tell us about a good book with a main character (b) who is someone most of your ancestors a hundred or so years ago might have been shocked and ashamed to see you marry or befriend.For me, (a) is easy since I was born in India, so basically most of the novels I read qualify, but (b) means a good book featuring a Muslim young man, so Khaled Hosseini's KITE RUNNER (which I think is an upper YA read) fits the bill. What about you?

Evaluating a YA Book

YALSA's Best Books For Young Adults librarians and teens ask questions to decide whether or not the nominated books will make the final cut. I thought they might be helpful for all of us who review and evaluate novels. What do you think of these? Are there any surprises or questions you'd never ask?

How well did the author capture your attention? How clear was the author’s theme or message? How vivid were the details? How well did the book build in intensity? How clear was the resolution? How well did the author’s language add to the book? How well did the writing match the book’s intended audience? How well did the characters develop? How effective was the author’s voice? How well did the dialogue match the theme and style of the book?React
How enticing was the cover? How enticing was the jacket blip? How much did you enjoy reading this book? How highly would you recommend this book? How likely are you to reread this book? …

Kids Books That Pass The Peace

Want your children to develop a passion for social justice? The Jane Addams Children's Book Award is given annually to books that "engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community, and/or equality of the sexes and all races." This year's winners are a must for families and classrooms who care about peace on the planet (annotations are from the Jane Addams' Book Award Committee's official press release).

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola, is this year's winner in the Books for Younger Children category:
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai profiles the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). Environmentalist and activist Wangari Maathai founded Kenya’s Green Belt Movement (1977) in direct response to the devastated natural resources and poverty caused by the deforestation of her homeland for commercial purposes.

In a picture book tha…