Monday, November 30, 2009

Contestants, Rev Your Engines

The Class of 2k10 has posted its first contest –

Grad Party Giveaway!
This month the Class of 2k10 is hosting a graduation party to honor the Class of 2k9 and celebrate their debut year. They're having a HUGE party on their blog and giving away a copy of ALL of the Class of 2k9 debut books! This week's list of books being given away are:

HEART OF A SHEPERT by Rosanne Parry
BULL RIDER by Suzanne Morgan Williams
JANE IN BLOOM by Deborah Lytton
MY LIFE IN PINK & GREEN by Lisa Greenwald
ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER by Ann Haywood Leal

It's easy to enter - just stop by a little later at Class 2K10's blog for details --

Live 2k10

Euclid is the most successful textbook writer of all time. His Elements, written around 300 B.C., has gone through more than 1,000 editions since the invention of printing

The Class of 2k10 (debut authors with books coming out in 2010, of which I'm one) just launched their website. The group includes 23 authors with fantastic Young Adult and Middle Grade books, covering a gamut of genres -- mystery, paranormal, fantasy, romance, contemporary... The Class of 2K was founded by Greg Fishbone in 2007 with the idea that debut authors could band together to make their publication journey easier. This years group hopes to continue in footsteps of our predecessors. Check out titles that will be appearing in your local bookstore soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy (on Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, one which my family loves -- it’s a time to gather with friends, family and loved ones we haven’t seen in a while. All the political ramifications of Plymouth rock, Pilgrims, Native Americans and history aside, I admit, it’s so much about the food!.
Wherever we were in the world at the time – Oxford, Kuala Lumpur (we didn’t’ roast a bird that year but did find a place that served it!), Paris, even Cairo, we've celebrated Thanksgiving. In Cairo I somehow roasted a huge turkey in our tiny gas stove. We had all the fixings - mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, gravy, caramelized sweet potatoes, rolls and corn) except cranberry sauce. Nowhere in Egypt, alas could it be found. Luckily we had a friend visiting from San Francisco and the only thing we told her to bring was cranberry sauce. We invited all our friends – Americans, Canadians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Germans, the Scott and the Russian – and had a great time. Despite the tough times these days, let Thanksgiving be a day for celebrating what is important, giving thanks for what we have, and working towards a better tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Green Ham, the Lorax and Bald Boys

Dr. Seuss wrote the book “Green Eggs and Ham” on a dare made by his publisher Bennet Cerf who bet him $50 that he could not write a children’s story using ONLY 50 words; 49 of which were one syllable words. He succeeded.

Okay, raise your hand – who hasn’t read CAT IN A HAT by Dr. Seuss? I’m sure most hands went up – I don’t think you can escape childhood without reading such classics as GREEN EGGS & HAM, THE BUTTER BATTLE BOOK, THE LORAX or HORTON HEARS A WHO.
Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, passed away in 1991 from cancer and I found it an interesting coincidence when I heard of Umm Yousuf’s story – she has a four year old son who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. While at the bookstore she’d been looking for fun, cheery books for her little boy and picked up a Dr Seuss title called MY BOOK ABOUT ME.
It has an unusual interactive twist -- you make it up as you go along. On each page there's something new to complete, from "I weigh ___ pounds" to "My teeth. I counted them. I have ___ up top. I have ___ downstairs." It gets children to name their home country, to recognize and draw in the color of their own eyes, learn their telephone number and address, to name favorite clothes, foods, and colors, and more. Umm Yousuf paused at the page with the bald boy. Her son had lost his hair while going through chemo, and she thought it was a shame that, of all the kids, it was the bald one who had a sad face. So she wrote the publishing company a letter: Dr Seuss style letter of course!

Beyond the Grinches, the Hortons and Who’s,
Came a page in a book that I wouldn’t choose.
Strolling in the book store I came across my favorite section,
I looked up and down, of the rack, of this Dr,’s collection.

There was a book I hadn’t seen before, I grabbed it right off that shelf,
It was called, “A Book About Me” By Me Myself!

I thought this would be nice for my son, age four,
I opened the book and began to read more.

It looked fun and exciting, another masterpiece of his,
As we have many of his books because of the whiz that he is!
Flipping the pages I came to page four,
And what to my surprise I dropped the book on the floor!

That book, “A book About Me” By Me Myself,
I put that book right back on that shelf!
There is a part of this page I wish I could go and delete,
For I’m afraid we don’t even see on Mulberry street!

A kid picks their hair color, length and their style,
But there is one little boy who hasn’t a smile.
All but one is smiling, and by this I am appalled,
All of the kids look happy except the one who is bald!

Usually getting another Dr. Suess book is a best buy,
I just left that book and started to cry.'
My son who has cancer would be sad to know,
The boy who is sad has hair he can’t grow.

So I am asking the author or the one with authority,
To make one little sick boy their priority.
Just as the red, the purple and the long hair,
Please put a smile, on the one bald, and be fair!

I was happy to hear that Random House sent back a gracious letter saying they plan to "change the boy's rumpled grimace into a nice bright smile". A great ending to this story.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.

Writing and completing a novel is phenomenally fulfilling, personally. Having your agent sell your book is exhilarating and numbing at the same time -- someone loves your book as much as you do -- loves it enough to acquire it. Seeing a galley of your novel on its way to becoming a finished product is an emotional rollercoaster -- it seems like it was only months before it had been a figment of your imagination. But being Amazoned, that took me by surprise -- Seeing what once inside your head now listed for pre-order is indescribable -- its a little like standing in your underwear in public. You are fully exposed -- but in a good sort of way.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Class of 2K10 Book Trailor

Bestselling books that got rejected - a lot - before they made history: Dune by Frank Herbert, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter

2K10, a group of debut novelists with Young Adult and Middle Grade Books coming out in 2010, just launched their book trailor. So many great reads!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Evening with Greg Mortenson

The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family -- Balti Proverb
This past weekend I attended the San Francisco Gala event of DIL – Developments in Literacy. DIL is dedicated to providing quality education to disadvantaged children, especially girls, by establishing and operating schools in the underdeveloped regions of Pakistan. It has a strong focus on gender equality and community participation. Since its inception in 1997, the organization now operates and manages 150 schools, with an enrollment of nearly 15,000 students.
The key note speaker was Dr. Adil Najam, a professor at Boston University and a senior fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Dr. Najam served as a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), work for which the IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore. His talk focused on the urgency to uplift the millions of poor in Pakistan by allowing them a chance to improve their lives through education. As I’ve mentioned before, he stressed the critical importance of educating girls, for when you educate a girl you improve not only her life, but that of her children and the community.
The special guest of honor at the event was Greg Mortenson, whose NYT bestselling book, THREE CUPS OF TEA, illuminates the importance of overcoming cultural divides and stresses that education is the solution to poverty. Greg's book has had a tremendous impact on me and my husband, who uses Greg's example in his class. We were looking forward to hearing him speak, but unfortunately, Greg was out sick. In his place stepped in Professor Abdul Jabbar, Board Chairman of Greg’s organization, the Central Asia Institute.
Professor Jabbar spoke candidly about Greg’s amazing work in building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also shared a poem with us – a poem that was sent to Greg by an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan. In it, the solider, who’d just read THREE CUPS OF TEA, explains how he sits for hours behind a wall, listening to kids playing on the other side. As he marvels at their innocence, he ponders whether his gun is the answer to why he is there. He believes the only way to overcome ignorance is education. This soldier helped organize a fundraiser in Alabama to raise money for schools in Afghanistan.
It’s amazing how a book can spark so much change, little and large

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Galley

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

I got this in the mail today ---

I opened with eager anticipation and wasn't dissapointed... many long months ago, the words to SHOOTING KABUL formed in my mind and landed in a word document on my laptop. After a round of edits, here it is, a book galley, close to final book format, copyedited and typeset. Galleys are put together for multiple reasons -- they are given to sales and marketing folks, sent to reviewers, and to solicit reviews from magazines, newspapers and bloggers. They are not the finished copy of the book, and can still be tweaked.
It's been an amazing journey so far, the road to publishing, with lots more to come. I'll leave you with the first page of the novel.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees --this amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year

Photo: gravlax/Flickr
Sad to say, when I open a book and turn the page, I never really think about the page itself – just the words printed on it. In the back of my mind, I know where the paper came from -- wood pulp, which is primarily from trees, which grow in forests. So when I saw a report by the World Wildlife Fund, I was horrified, as would be the Lorax.
The report reveals that a significant amount of deforestation in Asia's tropical forests is caused by the production of children’s books. Nearly a third of all of these books contains paper that was illegally logged in China and Indonesia. Paper analysis indicated that much of the pulp came from cleared areas of tropical forest that was home to endangered species like tigers, elephants and rhinoceros. To compound the problem, it is a known fact that the Asian paper industry seriously violates human rights contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
In Indonesia, some of the companies involved include Gold East Paper, Yalong Paper Products and Asia Pulp and Paper. They are leveling tropical rain forests at a rate that could make them disappear within 10 years. Another recent investigation by Greenpeace revealed that 88% of logging in Indonesia is illegal in some way.
Although only German children's books were tested, the investigation should raise red flags about book production worldwide, as paper is increasingly sourced from China. In response to the investigation, WWF Germany is calling on publishing houses to use paper certified as coming from sustainable sources or from recycled paper, and to give priority to paper bleached without the use of chlorine products. This call should go out to all publishing houses internationally. This may be another reason to seriously look at eBooks -- Kindles, Nooks and others could reduce the demand for paper -- illegal and otherwise.
One of the tested books had an environmental theme, and contained the prophetic words: "We are writing this in the year 2805. The human race has left the planet earth … nothing grows here anymore …"
Next time you open and book and turn the page, think about where that paper came from.