Last Chance to WIN!

Well, folks, we are almost at the finish line, and I am so touched by all the entries for the Virtual Classroom Visit giveaway! You still have time to enter, so if you haven’t yet, why wait?WRAD 3

AND TO SWEETEN THE DEAL…I’m gotten tons of entries. Many more than I was expecting. It’s almost not fair to only hand out ONE Virtual Visit. SO…here’s my idea:

if I get 300 or more total entries, I will give away not ONE Virtual Classroom Visit, but THREE.

That’s right, folks. Get your entries in. Go tell your friends and get them to enter. We don’t have too much further to go to get to 300, so spread the word and harass your colleagues and get them entering, commenting, tweeting, and following.

JUST TO REMIND YOU, HERE ARE THE RULES AGAIN:

I will be giving away a free 45-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how my upcoming book DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! came together, from the initial inspiration to the totally terrific art. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose!)DDM Cover

I will accept entries until MIDNIGHT, TONIGHT May 27, 2013, and I will draw the winner’s name and announce it on May 29.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

Required. Fill out the entry form below with your name, the school you would like to give the visit to, and your email address (so I can reach you!).

BUT WAIT! You can be entered to win the Virtual Visit multiple times. You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the cover.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below.

(3) tweet this post to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq in the tweet.

(4) like my author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(5) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment below.

or (6) like fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

That’s SEVEN ways to enter and win, folks! Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya…

GOOD LUCK!

Cover Reveal! (And Giveaway!)

At long last, I am proud to present the cover for my upcoming picture book,

DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE!

DDM Cover

How adorable is that????? Of course, I had very little to do with the cover. The thanks for that goes to the very fabulous Noah Z. Jones, the illustrator of such wonderful books as The Monster in the Backpack, Stuff, Dance with Me, and Not Norman: A Goldfish Story,

and also the creator of the tremendously entertaining television series Fish Hooks and Almost Naked Animals.

IN CELEBRATION OF THIS FABULOUS COVER, I will be giving away a free 45-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how this book came together, from the initial inspiration to the totally terrific art. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose!)

I will accept entries until May 27, 2013 and I will draw the winner’s name and announce it on May 29.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

Required. Fill out the entry form below with your name, the school you would like to give the visit to, and your email address (so I can reach you!).

BUT WAIT! You can be entered to win the Virtual Visit multiple times. You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the cover.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below.

(3) tweet this post to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq in the tweet.

(4) like my author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(5) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment below.

or (6) like fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

That’s SEVEN ways to enter and win, folks! Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya…

GOOD LUCK!

Kat Yeh: Mad Scribbles, Big Feet

297310_10150320631406460_1375238351_nA couple years ago, Kat Yeh and I were attending the same writer’s conference. I was in the middle of a conversation with a well-respected agent, when Kat walked by. Immediately, the person I was speaking to went silent and his eyes followed Kat as she walked away. When he finally remembered that he was supposed to be speaking to me, he turned back, shrugged, and said, “She’s very striking.” The funny thing is that this guy had no idea that, as striking as Kat is from across the room, she is so much more so in person. Kat has a warm and endearing personality that has you laughing and feeling like you’ve known her for years, even when you first meet. This explains why I’ve spilled so many secrets to her despite our relatively short friendship!

Magic-Brush-Yeh-Kat-9780802721792You're Lovable to MeKat is a graduate of Villanova University and she worked in sports marketing for many years before discovering she really is a wonderfully talented writer who needs to be putting books into the world for the rest of us to read. She is the author of the picture books YOU’RE LOVABLE TO ME (Random House Books for Young Readers) and THE MAGIC BRUSH A story of love, family and Chinese Characters (Walker Books for Young Readers) and the forthcoming novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE (Little Brown BYR, coming 2014). She’s also the recipient of the 2012 SCBWI Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award.

Thank you, Kat, for joining us today on Nerdy Chicks Rule. Let’s get started! If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I actually think I received the perfect piece of advice already at that age (though I was not really able to figure out how to use it till much later) A dear and wise-beyond-her -years friend gave me a little card with a tiny painting and the quote: “Being myself includes taking risks with myself, taking risks with my behavior so that I can see how it is I want to be” I think we were 13 or 14 at the time. She knew I was struggling and feeling stuck, so she made the card for me. I still have it.

And I wish I could honestly say I have other advice that I would give myself, but I kind of feel that all that stumbling and confusion was sort of necessary. Even the big plastic glasses and ill-advised outfit choice for my first 9th grade dance (brown cowl neck sweater and full-length a-line plaid skirt). I wouldn’t change any of it. But maybe I’d just go back and give myself a big hug.

If it makes you feel better, I never even went to my 9th grade dance (though had I gone, I’m sure my wardrobe choice would have been equally unfortunate). Let’s move on…You’re one of my favorite authors!

Funny, you’re one of mine 🙂

470696_10151023828672110_602530376_o

Here are the Nerdy Chicks with Kat (and Joyce Wan) in Princeton (after that conference where Kat was declared “striking”)

My favorite things to read…Books that lush and literary and brave and unapologetic and a little bit strange and completely committed to the world they create: example anything by Franny Billingsley.

 How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

I don’t think it is necessarily about what is being published today as much as it is about allowing a pretty free reign. Showing a lot of options, but then letting them make their own reading choices – and THEN being there to talk. Answer questions (or even better come up with more questions together!). Start discussions. Think of alternate endings. Be stumped. Be frustrated. Be in love. Then wonder and wonder and talk about why you both are feeling all these things. I love the George Carlin quote:  “Don’t just teach your children to read…Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

That is a terrific quote from a fairly smart (and nerdy!) man. But we’re called Nerdy Chicks Rule, so let’s re-focus on girls…Tell us about a fictitious nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her.

Is it too typical to say Jo March? I don’t think that I was ever as brave as she was as a teen, but I wanted to be. And of course, I always connected to her passion for reading and her utter desperate Need To Be a Writer – as well as her big feet and awkwardness and temper and fierce love and mad scribbling.

Your feet are not big! (Well, at least, not that big.) Moving on, though…What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

I love, love spending hours in used book stores or in the used book section of my local indy. Looking for old art books. Hidden overlooked early editions of favorites. I love finding books with quirky titles and wonderful content. It’s like a treasure hunt. I recently found a ratty copy of a book titled, LOVE & DROLLERY – A SELECTION OF AMATORY, MERRY AND SATIRICAL VERSE OF THE 17TH CENTURY for $7. Happiness.

That was totally going to be the title of my next book! I guess that’s why I should do more market research, especially in used book stores. You’ve convinced me to follow in your (normal-sized) footsteps! Now, what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?

easy: without a doubt, it is only when being absolutely myself (and therefore, embracing the nerdy in me) that I have been able to Find & Be Found and Get & Be Gotten by like-minded souls who have become life friends.

527286_10151155108171460_496397820_nI love the way you describe that: Find & Be Found and Get & Be Gotten. Beautiful. Guess that’s why you’re an award-winning author, huh? 🙂

Now, for the fun part: if someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it?

That’s hard. As a mom, I tend not to think about spending money on myself. I’d probably buy drinks and a load of appetizers somewhere yummy (and hopefully with music) where a friend and I could have long, leisurely talk-ish time together.

And, finally, can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

For several months now it’s been baby arugula. I know – it’s not glamorous or decadent, but it makes me crazy. All dark and peppery and perfect.

Thank you again, Kat! If you want to find out more about the fabulous and fashionable Kat Yeh, visit her at katyeh.com (still under construction, but coming soon!) and follow her on Twitter: @yehface

Karma Wilson: Better Today than Yesterday

novprofileI can’t imagine there’s anyone in the world who doesn’t know who Karma Wilson is. After all, she’s a bestselling author and all-around interesting person. Who, by the way, trains in Mixed Martial Arts and calls a dog, a cat, and a chicken her pets. But just in case you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of Bear Snores On, Frog in the Bog, or Hogwash, here’s a little about Karma.

Karma never really thought about being a professional writer because, growing up, it seemed so boring. But that’s only because her mother was a professional writer – and who wants to do what Mom does? (By the way, the answer to that is usually EVERYONE. But only secretly.) But as children all over the world are grateful for every day, Karma eventually came around and started writing books for kids. The first one(Bear Snores On)  came out in 2002. Since then, she’s written 30 books which have collectively received numerous state and national awards, been translated into dozens of languages, and a few have made an appearance on the New York Times bestseller list. 

I wanted to interview Karma for this blog because not only is she a great example of a Nerdy Chick, but many, many years ago, she became one of my KidLit idols (that’s a secret, too. I don’t want to look like a lame fangirl). So, please welcome Karma to Nerdy Chicks Rule!

So, Karma, you’re an award-winning author! What are your favorite things to read?

Fantasy is numero uno and always has been, followed by historical fiction with plucky characteres, and sci-fi if it’s original.

How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

Oh no, not sure how to answer this. I don’t think all of them are for one thing.

(I agree with you. But do go on.)

A lot of pop fiction is depicting girls as helpless princesses waiting for a hero, or bullies, or cliquish mean girls.  I like books that help give girls a voice, that help them see themselves as capable people able to think and reason. Laurie Halse Anderson’s work, for instance. I think that for me it’s the books that are written about genuine, strong characters set in a good story that will automatically set the right examples for girls.  And I’m not the kind who thinks that only girl characters can set examples for girl readers. I love strong boy characters and think there is a gap in fiction that appeals to boys and girls. A timeless treasure like Freak the Mighty can go a long ways to teaching anybody how to be a more capable, compassionate, thinking person–boy or girl. A book depicting a boy character who values women and treats them as equals can help a girl recognize a good guy. Good stories, good characters–the rest falls into place.

Those are really good points. I think people are coming around to the idea that there shouldn’t be “girl books” and “boy books.” But speaking of girl characters…tell us about a fictitious nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her.

Anne of Green Gables. I admire her for taking her fantasies and not just using them as an escape from her harsh reality, but to improve herself as a person.  She learned from her mistakes, she grew as an individual, she was caring, unique and plucky.  I love her!

Me, too! Reading is obviously very important to you, which totally makes sense since Nerdy Chicks love to read! What is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a Nerdy Chick? family

Teaching my children to value words and literature. All three are excellent readers who enjoy words and writing. WIN!

In fact, I want to give a thanks to my kids, Michael, David and Chrissy for continuing to be my most successful endeavor….

That’s not only fabulous, it’s something that parents everywhere should try to emulate. Brava! How about this: what’s something else you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

I like to take pictures of food and post them on facebook. Yep, I’m one of those! lol. To be fair, I like and comment on other people’s food photos.

Mmmmm. There’s nothing wrong with that. Speaking of food, Can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

Coffee.  And toilet paper. In that order? Oh, just one. Sorry! lol

OMG, I just snorted my Pepsi all over my desk! You are too funny! If someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it? 

Buy a special treat from a local artist or craftsman. That way it would be a gift to them too! Probably pottery, which I love.

I’m starting to get goosebumps. I love pottery, too! Could we be long-lost sisters? (Wait, too fangirl-y? I’ll stop.)

IMG_2566Last question: tell us a four-word descriptive phrase you would like people to associate with you.

Better today than yesterday.

I’m not sure we could have ended on a better note than that – those may become words I have to live by. Thank you so much, Karma, for joining us.

If you want to learn more about Karma, find her on the web at www.karmawilson.com. There you can find great resources for teachers, parents and lovers of children’s books. 

Leeza Hernandez: Fueled by Sour Patch Kids

leezaI met Leeza Hernandez years ago, and I’ve always felt she was waaaaaaay cooler than me. That’s hard for me to admit. Add to that her incredible artistic talent and way cool accent (she hails from the south of England), and I almost don’t want to talk to her. Except you can’t help but talk to Leeza — she’s too much fun, she’s got too much energy, and she’s way too smart. Read her interview — you’ll see what I mean.

As I said, Leeza is originally from England, but has been living in the USA since 1999. In 2004 she switched from newspaper and magazine design to children’s book illustration and writing. 2012 marked a milestone for her as she celebrated the release of her debut-authored picture book Dog Gone! (G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

Leeza is currently working on revisions and sketches for two new books due out in 2014 and just finished final art for a picture book written by John Lithgow (wow!!!!!!), due for release in fall 2013. She’s also the Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI chapter.
In her spare time, Leeza can be found either playing school, carpet picnic-ing or making art with her daughter, or cleaning the litter box. Coffee and Sour Patch Kids fuel late deadline nights which is also when the the cat likes to present her favorite fur balls under the art table!
Thanks for joining us, Leeza! Let’s get started…If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Middle school: DUCK!

(Oh, that’s hilarious. sorry for interrupting!)

High school: You might not be good at that and that’s okay. It in no way means you are a failure, simply do your best!

That’s great advice — I wish someone had told me that in high school! Moving forward in time, though, you’re now a professional artist. What are your favorite things to draw?

I love drawing chubby chickens wearing boots, scarves and/or earmuffs. There’s something very funny to me about that image. Makes me smile.

That’s made me smile, too! How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

Showcasing any female character who, when faced with adversity, finds victory and overcomes chaos in clever, articulate and intuitive ways is a sure fire way to empower girls. I think that society is more open to embracing these types of characters and therefore today’s books have become the perfect platform to inspire nerdy chicks, help them be smart and know that anything in life is possible.

I agree — finding great examples in literature is a way to inspire girls to go after their dreams. Can you tell us about a fictitious nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her?

Roald Dahl’s Matilda has to be one of the first “fictitious nerdy chicks” I ever remember having an impact on my life. There’s so many things to love about her- in spite of a difficult home life and an atrocious headmistress, she sought and found solace in books. With an insatiable appetite for learning she discovered the power of knowledge. Two other fictitious nerdy chicks whom I admire are Alice Pleasance and Violet Beaudelaire- smart girls who knew how to keep it together!

I love those characters, too! (See — I told you Leeza is waaaay cooler than me!) You truly are a Nerdy Chick, Leeza. What is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a Nerdy Chick?

Oh wow, now you’ve put me on the spot! Okay, sorry if this sounds cheesy, but getting in to college was a big deal for me. Going through high school, and knowing that there was an exciting world filled with mystery and yet-to-be-discovered opportunities beyond the waters that surrounded the island I grew up on, were what made me more determined to study and get to college. That was my gateway to a new world. I absorbed myself in my art especially, and getting into art school will always be one of my favorite achievements. Debuting as an author/illustrator last year felt pretty good too!

I think college was a pretty big deal for a lot of us — doesn’t sound cheesy at all. It’s very inspiring to hear how you used college to open up a “new world,” as you put it. I think that’s what college is supposed to do.

Let’s shift gears a bit and have some fun…Do you have a personal “theme song,” perhaps one that speaks to your inner nerdiness?

Hmm, I never thought about a theme song. Ziggy Marley’s “Believe in Yourself” perhaps?

Love it! If someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it?

No brainer! Books and art supplies.

Can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

Cheese: a good strong cheddar. (Hate to think what my cholesterol levels are like though!)

Ha! LEEZA HERNANDEZ, LOVER OF CHEESE. I think I love that even more! And finally, is there anything else you want to share with us that has made you who you are today?

Well, aside from art, sports and French were my favorite subjects throughout most of my school years. I was terrible at science. Also, I played cello for three years in middle school, but only because all the flutes were taken in the school orchestra. I can’t play cello anymore, but I do still play descant and tenor recorder.

Thank you, Leeza, for this great interview. I will never look at chickens without boots or earmuffs the same again!

If you want to know more about Leeza and her work (and who wouldn’t?), you can find her on the web at www.leezaworks.comHer books can be found at www.doggonethebook.com and www.eatyourmathhomework.com. Follow her on Twitter: @leezaworks

 

New GIVEAWAY!

During Picture Book Idea Month (or PiBoIdMo, as those in the know call it), participants are asked to come up with new picture book ideas. One of the best way to come up with picture book ideas is to find inspiration through reading other picture books. Therefore, in honor of  PiBoIdMo, we are doing a picture book giveaway!

Inspiration is an evolving thing, and what we can do with inspiration changes over time as well. So the prize here is actually a set of two autographed picture books: my first, Tightrope Poppy, the High-Wire Pig, and my last (or, at least, my most recent) Pirate Princess. Are you excited? Ready to be inspired? I hope so!

There are several ways to enter:

(1) Leave a comment telling me about the best picture book you’ve read in the last two years (just so every answer ins’t Where the Wild things Are)

(2) follow me on Twitter — mention that in a comment

(3) like my author page on Facebook — mention that in a comment

(4) follow this blog (right sidebar) — mention that in a comment

or (5)  follow fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page — mention that in a comment

So, that’s FIVE ways you can enter to win! Just make sure you tell us in the comments which types of entries you’ve submitted. We will select a winner on November 26 (*) so the contest will remain open until November 25. Good luck to everyone!

* Only entries from the US or Canada are eligible to win the autographed books

Tara Lazar: Picture Book Writer and PiBoIdMo Creator

In honor of PiBoIdMo (you do know what that is, don’t you?), have we got a treat for you. The fabulously nerdy and brilliantly fabulous Tara Lazar is joining us today for a special bonus interview. Let’s hear what this Nerdy Chick has to say…

 

I’ve known Tara for several years through NJ-SCBWI. Not only is she a great writer and a super person, she’s also as into shoes and fashion as I am. Tara’s first picture book, The Monstore is forthcoming from Aladdin in June 2013, with two more picture books following soon after. She has inspired hundreds of picture book authors with a program she created called PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month. Visit her blog (http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/)to read more about it… or to join up!

Thanks for joining us Tara! We’ll start off with a question we ask everyone: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Baggy pants and permed hair is not a good look.

I remember that look! At least we can say it looked better on the chicks than the dudes! You’re a professional writer – can you share some of your favorite things to read? I love short stories. I subscribe to One Story and I buy the Greatest American Short Stories anthology every year. But I also read a lot of novels, both for adults and kids. I prefer quirky stories with a sprinkling of magic—nothing too fantastical or surreal, just enough magic so it’s still plausible. And who can forget picture books? I read at least two hours every day.

Wow. That’s a lot of reading, but everyone says reading makes us better writers. Since you are so well read, how do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)? When I was growing up, I only remember Judy Blume books as speaking to me directly as an adolescent girl. Now there are hundreds of books aimed at young girls’ unique experiences: having an autistic sibling, losing a parent, wanting to excel in a talent, being a super-genius, coming from a poor family, dealing with bullies… The choices are endless. There’s a book to ease concerns over every embarrassing and mysterious dilemma inside every girl. She can feel confident knowing she’s not alone, giving her the courage to be herself.

I didn’t look so good, so Tara started grooming me — I can always count on her to have my back!

I agree. Thankfully, there are more books than ever for girls these days. Besides reading, what’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? Teaching! I love to teach new writers; I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I get a kick when I see their faces light up in an “aha” moment.

I also love studying rocks and minerals, Hubble space telescope images, literature of the 1920’s, and Discover Magazine. I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a teen. C’mon, discovering buried treasure for a living? Awesome!

Do you have a favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick? I was on the high school physics team. We even had a cheer: P-H-Y-S-I-C-S, physics, physics, yes, yes, YES! (OK, I didn’t say it was a good cheer.) I also scored leading roles in my HS plays and directed the senior year play. I was a drama geek, too. This was BEFORE “High School Musical” and “Glee”, when it was really uncool. But I didn’t care, I loved it.

Hahaha! There’s probably a reason the physics club isn’t the cheer squad, right? Thanks again for showing us your nerdy side! And may this be the biggest PiBoIdMo ever!

To find out more about Tara, visit her blog (taralazar.com), like her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/authortara ) or follow her @taralazar on Twitter.