Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 11: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

We should have been on The Brain Lair yesterday with Alana, the sous chef in the bad-tempered Chef Armend's kitchen, but Alana was...well, missing. As Dini knows all too well, it's very annoying when characters in a fillum don't do as they're told. Happily, she showed up this morning, so here's today's Brain Lair post on how even minor characters can play significant roles in a story.

Meanwhile, my fabulous VCFA colleagues Kathi Appelt, Susan Fletcher and I are headed to Texas next month for a book launch party with all three of our books and a workshop at The Writing Barn. Yee ha! Dini and Dad are looking forward to it. Dad's brushing up on his cowboy idioms. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 10: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Illustration © Abigail Halpin, 2013
Today Ollie the line cook is featured on The Book Monsters in an interview with Kristen--blogger, book lover, and media specialist. Here's her review of the book. Quick peek:
I loved the over the top characters in this book, really bringing Dolly to life along with rest of the characters.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 9: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Janet Fox is one of my favorite people, not to mention a former VCFA student who, I am happy to say, completed a thoughtful, interesting critical thesis on my watch. She's also a talented writer and the author of marvelous historical novels such as Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, and Forgiven (2011), set in 1906 San Francisco during the great earthquake. Her latest YA novel Sirens (2012) is a "noir romance" set in 1925. 

Today, Janet bravely allows the intrepid and temperamental Chef Armend Latifi from The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic into her kitchen--er, blog

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 8: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Illustration © Abigail Halpin, 2103
Today, Happy Dancing: How a Wacky Bollywood Star Made Her Way Into My Story--a guest post about the character of Dolly Singh, over at I Read Banned Books.

Jen Bigheart, who hosts I Read Banned Books, is a librarian at Westbank Community Libraries in Austin, Texas. As far as I'm concerned, librarians are heroes in the ongoing battle for freedom of information, for the rights of people to read the books they need to read, or want to read, or both. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 7: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Illustration © Abigail Halpin, 2013
Today Mini the elephant reminisces on Read Now Sleep Later. Which, by the way, was very much my motto in childhood, and still remains my practice, at least whenever a book grabs me by the heart and won't let go. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 6: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

We end the first week of this blog tour with a review of The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic from Booking Mama. Quick peek:

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a cute middle grade book about a very memorable character!

Tomorrow we take a brief hiatus, resuming Monday with a visit by Mini the elephant to Read Now Sleep Later

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 5: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Fourth grade teacher and blogger Colby Sharp features Chickoo Uncle today on Sharpreads.

Quick peek:
I am very honored to have Uma Krishnaswami on sharpread today. Her new book The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic has wonderfully written characters...
Tomorrow, a review on Booking Mama (see today's review of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything) and then we take a break until Monday.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 4: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

I am not usually tempted to go read reviews of my books on Amazon, but a friend recently sent me an e-mail suggesting I go take a look at the kid reviews of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. I did, and one mother and daughter post warmed my heart.

It was a short read, but the laughs lasted quite a while longer after the book was closed.
I also liked how the book had not only Dini's point of view but the view-points of Lal the mail man, the director and Dolly herself. It was a really cute book and I would definitely recommend it to my friends.
Now and then I come across adults who wonder if kids will get these shifting viewpoints. Yes. Exactly.

Writers can pretend they're oblivious to audience, that they write from inner spaces that have nothing to do with potential readers. But audience matters when you write for young people. It matters a lot. In the end, reviews and blog posts are just ways to get a book into the hands of the child who needs it. Just the way I needed books when I was ten years old and hungry for the worlds that they allowed me to enter.

Today, we have a guest post about Dini's dad on The Compulsive Reader. Thank you, Tirzah Price! Here's Tirzah's review of The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 3: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Today, Soli Dustup, the studio executive driven to distraction by Dolly's impulses and antics, visits Once Upon a Story.

Here's the promised trailer. I know, I know, they usually show up before the book does, but Dolly's timelines are often slightly iffy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blog Tour, Day 2: The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic

Today, a guest post by Maddie, Dini's best friend, and a giveaway on a blog that's as friendly as it's informative: There's a Book. "Because sometimes there's a book that can transform a child's world."

Quick peek:
As many of you know I adore middle grade novels, especially those featuring original storylines and standout characters. Well, The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami is one that will standout in my mind for years to come. 
I got a fan letter yesterday, the first one for this new book. A real letter, in an envelope, all the way from Florida. I picked it up from the PO Box and read it straight through. "The books about Dini you wrote were very exciting," writes my correspondent. "I want to write books when I grow up."

The letter made me smile. Books can touch us in real and magical ways. They touched me years ago. At its best, when it works, writing sparks other writing. It's purely delightful that something I wrote drove a ten-year-old to put pencil to paper, because back when I was ten, that was me!

And watch this blog for the trailer for The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic, to which finishing touches are being placed at this very minute by the talented Laurel Kathleen and Cooper Appelt.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Grand and Heroic Blog Tour with Dini and Dolly and Friends

I'm tickled to announce that today is the kick-off day for the blog tour for my new middle grade novel from Atheneum Books for Young Readers, The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic. Yes, this is the second Dini and Dolly book, the sequel to The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

Many of the posts in this blog tour will focus on one of the characters from the second book. Today Dini gets a spot on Green Bean Teen Queen.

Filled with insights to warm a writer's heart is this review on the SAADA web site. Thank you, Anna Coats, from the bottom of my rose petal milkshake!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anushka Ravishankar of Duckbill Books on her many roles in publishing in India

Back in 1997, I fell in love with Anushka Ravishankar's picture book, Tiger On a Tree, published by Tara Books in India and later in an American edition by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Together with former Scholastic India editor, Sayoni Basu, Anushka has now launched a new press in Delhi, Duckbill Books.

Here's a recent email exchange I had with Anushka:

[Uma] You've played so many roles in children's publishing in India--poet, picture book writer, editor, risk-taker, mover of mountains…. Talk about how it's felt over the years to invent and reinvent your engagement with your work.  Or did it all just happen?

[Anushka] Oddly enough, I've never thought of my work as work. I wrote, I edited, I moved molehills ... I never thought I was taking risks, or doing anything special. None of it was carefully planned. I got tired of software, and wanted to do something in children's literature or theatre ... and I joined Tara Publishing. That sort of crystallised it for me. I realised I was doing something that was more than work; it was a way of living that I enjoyed and I remember thinking one day, at Tara, how fortunate I was not to have to differentiate my life from my work. But I get restless when I don't write, so I left Tara to write plays, and joined Scholastic because I wanted to get back to editing, then left again to write ... no planning, or invention or reinvention, I'm afraid.

[Uma] Tell me about Duckbill. What led to this venture? What excites you about it? What if anything feels daunting?

[Anushka] Duckbill was a long time in gestation. Like ideas tend to, it lay dormant, and Sayoni and I talked about it now and then, but never very seriously. When it did happen it was all rather serendipitous. Sayoni had just left Scholastic and I had just moved to Gurgaon, so I ended up joining Scholastic in her place, on a short-term, part-time basis. When my time was almost up, Sayoni had decided to leave her new job. We were (still are) neighbours, and so we thought this was the time to put our money where our mouths were. It wasn't Duckbill when we spoke about it before. That happened in about two minutes on a car ride. (Most of our maddest ideas seem to happen on car rides. I wonder what that means.)

What's exciting? Finding fresh new voices through our workshops, happening upon gems in the unsolicited manuscripts, publishing books that we would never have published if we were working in a big publishing firm. The selling is daunting. Getting children to buy books, to read books ... how does one do that in a country where there are no public libraries, and very little institutional purchase of books that are not text books?

[Uma] You're also Regional Advisor now for SCBWI-India. How about your own writing? Where do you see yourself going next?

[Anushka] That's a tough one. I have three or four books to write in the next six months, but time has become a very scarce commodity. I keep thinking I'd like to write a longer book, but for now, it looks like I'll have to be satisfied with chapter books and picture books. Not being able to write when I want to is the one thing that I find difficult about being a platypus. I have to find a way to do it, though.

[Uma] Are there a couple of forthcoming books from Duckbill that you'd like to talk about?

[Anushka] Flat-track Bullies is a book by a Chennai-based software engineer, called Balaji Venkataramanan. It came to us out of the blue. Balaji is a first-time writer. When we read the book, we were bowled over, because it's written in completely unselfconscious Chennai English. It is absolutely hilarious and yet, it has a strong story with an undercurrent of seriousness. The voice of the narrator is fresh, audacious and completely original. We're so happy to be publishing it! It's due to be out in August.

Another gem that landed in our inbox is Jobless Clueless Reckless, a young adult novel, which also has a narratorial voice that is completely authentic and charming. It's one of those rare books that was so tightly written that we only had to put in the odd comma and full stop. An editor's dream! The author, Revathi Suresh, is another first-time author. The writing is deceptively smooth and pitch perfect. Only a beleaguered editor can know what a joy it is to have such a finished and accomplished piece of writing drop into the mailbox!

[Uma] Thanks, Anushka! Much luck to you and Sayoni in this new venture, and to you with your plans for SCBWI-India. I have a feeling our paths will cross again.