Writing Race in Novels: The Audio Version

I'm proud to be a part of The Drum: A Literary Magazine for your Ears with my spoken essay, "Writing Race in Novels." Other than noting that I talk too fast (should have been an auctioneer), I'd like to hear your thoughts and responses to my piece.

Bangladesh is on my mind ... and, sadly, on my labels

Many of us heard about the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh last spring, but here's another horrible connection between the garment industry and suffering in that beautiful country: pollution so bad that it's sickening the children and destroying the land.

On July 15, Jim Yardley of the New York Times reported on this tragic situation:
Bangladesh’s garment and textile industries have contributed heavily to what experts describe as a water pollution disaster, especially in the large industrial areas of Dhaka, the capital. Many rice paddies are now inundated with toxic wastewater. Fish stocks are dying. 
After you read the entire article, head to your closet and check your labels. Do any report that they're "made in Bangladesh?" Mine do. "I've created jobs in Bangladesh," I used to think to justify such cheap purchases. But are these jobs creating more suffering than they're eradicating?

Source: PBS Newshour Extra
The garment industry is far behind other fair trade movements. Fair Trade USA, which helped to reform the global coffee economy, recently added this category to their rigorously approved "products and partners" list, but the list is sparse. Let's help it to grow by buying these clothes instead of these:

Brief notes about Bangladesh (and me): Bangladesh is the most densely populated country and the 8th most populous country in the world. My parents were both born there. My book for upper elementary readers, Rickshaw Girl (Charlesbridge), is set there. My husband, sons, and I lived in Dhaka for three years. Most people speak Bengali, my mother tongue. It's poor, but here's some good news
The World Bank quietly announced that Bangladesh reduced the number of people living in poverty from 63 million in 2000 to 47 million in 2010. 
Do you know of any other books to share with your children or students about Bangladesh? If so, please leave them in the comments.

Is it Pathetic When a Twitter Search Jumpstarts Your Writing?

After a huge cross-country move, it's tough to get back into writing mode. Yesterday, on a desperate hunt for inspiration, I searched for "Bamboo People" on twitter just to see if anybody had been reading it. (Come on, fellow writers, confess your google and social media searches -- it's a lonely vocation.) To my delight, I discovered an exchange that was even more lovely because these teens had no idea a certain discouraged writer might overhear it. Thanks to them, I'm suddenly ready to get back into my TIGER BOY revision.

Finding a Literary Agent in the Age of Social Media

Hunting for the perfect agent to help you get your children's or YA book published? It's easier to do your research now than it was when I got started, mainly thanks to social media. Here are a few resources to help:


Here's my list of agents on twitter who represent authors of books for young readers. Read their tweets for a while. Get to know their voices. Find the ones who like the kinds of books you read and write. Then submit your manuscript.

Blogs and Sites

Middle Grade Ninja asked a bunch of agents the same seven questions about their preferences. Here are their answers. Read, take notes, and think about who might be a good match for your work.

Writer's Digest has good information on-line about young adult and middle grade literary agents.

[From Kellye Crocker in the comments]: Scroll down the left sidebar at Literary Rambles for all kinds of agent interviews and information.

Know of any other research resources for unagented, brilliant writers seeking traditional publishers? Add them in the comments below. (Plus, read this good post by editor Sangeeta Mehta featuring six questions to ask yourself before you self-publish.)