Lots happening as summer turns into fall! Here’s where you’ll find me this season:

Sunday, September 11, 5 p.m.
Slice Literary Conference Panel: Finding Great Writers
Saint Francis College
180 Remsen St
New York NY 11201

Monday, September 12, 6 to 8 p.m.
Brooklyn BookFest Bookends Event: Storytellers & City Dwellers
Books of Wonder
18 W. 18th Street
New York, New York

Sunday, October 9, 2:30 p.m.
NYC ComicCon: #WhitewashedOut Panel
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 W. 34th St
New York, New York 10001

Saturday, October 15, All Day
Rutgers One-On-One Plus Conference
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Saturday & Sunday, November 12 and 13
BookRiot Live!
Metropolitan West Center
639 W. 46th St.
New York, New York

Events
Comment

thankful-script1This week, as we all gather our loved ones and our thoughts to give thanks for all the love and luck we’ve received this year, it’s worth taking some time to look back and really take stock.

Every year, to do just that, I create “a reverse bucket list,” kind of the opposite of an actual bucket list, which is a rundown of things you’d like to accomplish before you kick the proverbial bucket. The reverse bucket list takes a look back at things that you’ve already done and are proud of — goals achieved, moments worth reliving, the idea of gratitude for the here and now and what you already have.

So this year, again, I offer up a few a few things that make my reverse bucket list. I’m sure there are more to come:

-Shaiyar. The new addition. He made me stop, regroup, refocus, slow down and, at the same time, kick things into high gear. I love his little snuggles, and he and his big sister are all the motivation I need when I get weighed down by what ifs. He’s so insatiably curious — he reminds me of what youth means. It’s a welcome shock to the status quo.

-Kavya, my beautiful, smartie pant, sparkly-eyed daughter. In the past four years, she’s become this unique, quirky, funny, larger-than-life little character.  The things she says and does never fail to astound me — she’s so smart and so cute and so charming. She’s simply amazing. These first three years of motherhood have been as exhausting and as fulfilling as any I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to see what comes next — especially now that Navdeep and I are expanding our sweet little trio into a quartet! It’s been really fun and fascinating to see Kavya in the role of big sister. She rocks it.

-My husband Navdeep. I’ve never met a smarter, sweeter, sexier man, and I’m so glad that we managed to find each other, despite startling odds. I’m so lucky to have a partner who gets me on so many different levels, who makes my goals his goals, whose brilliance startles me even after all these years. And in the past few years, we’ve gotten to learn about each other on many new levels — as parents, as writers, as partners. I’m also so proud of him for pursuing his passion, really starting to shape his voice and make a dent in that novel he’s been writing. (And for doing VONA with Junot Diaz this year — I know that experience will bear fruit!) I can’t wait to share his voice with the world. As someone once told me, he’s a keeper.

-My family, a boisterous, incredibly fun bunch whose unconditional love and support has been both my safety net — and the reason I’ve felt I can venture out onto paths unexplored. My stylish, smartie pant sister, my artist brother, my mother, who taught me what a mama should be, and my dad, who came to this country more than 30 years ago with a goal — to make his little family’s life better. My extended clan in California, who keep in touch via Skype, frequent visits (including one next week) and Kavya’s super-fun stories about “two sisters, Joshvira” and usually a dragon. Yay! We have so much to celebrate!

-The life-changing six-month honeymoon adventure Navdeep and I took in India — and IshqInABackpack.com, the site where we’ve managed to document some memories we made. The trip altered the way we looked at each other, and ourselves. It took me off my tried-and-true path and into new territory. And we’re having new adventures all the time! This year, we managed to add a few small adventures — including Kavya’s first trip to Disneyland (and mine too!).

-My decade at People magazine. As crazy and stressful as those years were, they were formative in my career, and made me the writer I am today. They also afforded me a luxury that few writers have these days — the ability to earn a real living from home in my pajamas, writing about things I’m really interested in.

-Freelancing. I couldn’t have asked for a better day job. It’s fun and focused, entertaining and explorative. It leaves me enough time to spend with my little family, and it allows me the leeway I need to focus on other goals — like fiction.

-What I learned from my class at the New School. I didn’t realize how much I needed a writers’ community until I found one. Having the right to take writing seriously for once in my life was totally priceless — and just the beginning of a true focus on making my passion my vocation.

-Speaking of the New School, I can’t ask for a better business partner than Ms. Dhonielle Clayton, my partner-in-crime since we met on the first day of class. She definitely kicks my butt and keeps me in line — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Together, we co-founded CAKE Literary, a boutique lit development company — and after two years of hard work, we finally saw it pay off with the sale of our first book. We’re expecting even bigger and better things in 2014 — and we’re thrilled to be able to bring diversity to teens and kids everywhere in book form, because we definitely felt the lack of it in the books we both read growing up. So YAY Cake! I’m gonna get me a big ole’ piece in 2015!

-The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. With these folks, I’ve found my tribe — and I couldn’t be prouder of the mission or what the team has accomplished in such a short time! Here’s to even bigger and brighter!

-The quiet before the storm. Next year — debut year — is going to be head-spinning. But this year was all head down and focus. And I needed that.

-Writing. In whatever form it takes — screenplays with Meena, blog posts about Kavi (which I’ll keep for her to read when she’s older), those nearly complete novels (see New Year’s resolutions post!) or those countless emails Navdeep and I exchanged back in the day, unraveling our life stories. Writing has been my form of analysis, of catharsis, of revelation. I’m glad it’s the path I stumbled upon and decided to follow.

That’s just the start of my reverse bucket list — there are countless other things I’m thankful for this year. Stay tuned for resolutions! You know they’re coming!

What tops your list this holiday season?

Creative Writing, Reverse Bucket List, Sona Charaipotra, Writing

, ,
Comment

thankful-script1This week, as we all gather our loved ones and our thoughts to give thanks for all the love and luck we’ve received this year, it’s worth taking some time to look back and really take stock.

Every Thanksgiving, to do just that, I create “a reverse bucket list,” kind of the opposite of an actual bucket list, which is a rundown of things you’d like to accomplish before you kick the proverbial bucket. The reverse bucket list takes a look back at things that you’ve already done and are proud of — goals achieved, moments worth reliving, the idea of gratitude for the here and now and what you already have.

So this year, again, I offer up a few a few things that make my reverse bucket list. I’m sure there are more to come:

-Kavya, my beautiful, smartie pant, sparkly-eyed daughter. In the past three years, she’s become this unique, quirky, funny, larger-than-life little character.  The things she says and does never fail to astound me — she’s so smart and so cute and so charming. She’s simply amazing. These first three years of motherhood have been as exhausting and as fulfilling as any I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to see what comes next — especially now that Navdeep and I are expanding our sweet little trio into a quartet! It’ll be really fun and fascinating to see Kavya in the role of big sister, and to learn just who our new addition turns out to be.

-My husband Navdeep. I’ve never met a smarter, sweeter, sexier man, and I’m so glad that we managed to find each other, despite startling odds. I’m so lucky to have a partner who gets me on so many different levels, who makes my goals his goals, whose brilliance startles me even after all these years. And in the past two years, we’ve gotten to learn about each other on many new levels — as parents, as writers, as partners. I’m also so proud of him for pursuing his passion, really starting to shape his voice and make a dent in that novel he’s been writing. I can’t wait to share his voice with the world. As someone once told me, he’s a keeper.

-My family, a boisterous, incredibly fun bunch whose unconditional love and support has been both my safety net — and the reason I’ve felt I can venture out onto paths unexplored. My stylish, smartie pant sister, my artist brother, my mother, who taught me what a mama should be, and my dad, who came to this country more than 30 years ago with a goal — to make his little family’s life better. My extended clan in California, who keep in touch via Skype, frequent visits (including one next week) and Kavya’s super-fun stories about “two sisters, Joshvira” and usually a dragon. Yay! We have so much to celebrate!

-The life-changing six-month honeymoon adventure Navdeep and I took in India — and IshqInABackpack.com, the site wre we’ve managed to document some memories we made. The trip altered the way we looked at each other, and ourselves. It took me off my tried-and-true path and into new territory. And we’re having new adventures all the time! This year, we managed to add a few small adventures — including Kavya’s first trip to Disneyland (and mine too!).

-My decade at People magazine. As crazy and stressful as those years were, they were formative in my career, and made me the writer I am today. They also afforded me a luxury that few writers have these days — the ability to earn a real living from home in my pajamas, writing about things I’m really interested in.

-Freelancing. I couldn’t have asked for a better day job. It’s fun and focused, entertaining and explorative. It leaves me enough time to spend with my little family, and it allows me the leeway I need to focus on other goals — like fiction.

-What I learned from my class at the New School. I didn’t realize how much I needed a writers’ community until I found one. And I’m glad I got this particular bunch. They share my passion, my ambition, my goals. I’ve found in them the support I need, and the right to take writing seriously for once in my life. Six months after graduation, this little peer group I’ve found continues to persevere — and to astound me. I hope we’ll be working together, both commiserating and celebrating, for years to come.

-Speaking of the New School, I can’t ask for a better business partner than Ms. Dhonielle Clayton, my partner-in-crime since we met on the first day of class. She definitely kicks my butt and keeps me in line — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Together, we co-founded CAKE Literary, a boutique lit development company — and after two years of hard work, we finally saw it pay off with the sale of our first book. We’re expecting even bigger and better things in 2014 — and we’re thrilled to be able to bring diversity to teens and kids everywhere in book form, because we definitely felt the lack of it in the books we both read growing up. So YAY Cake! I’m gonna get me a big ole’ piece in 2014!

-Writing. In whatever form it takes — screenplays with Meena, blog posts about Kavi (which I’ll keep for her to read when she’s older), those nearly complete novels (see New Year’s resolutions post!) or those countless emails Navdeep and I exchanged back in the day, unraveling our life stories. Writing has been my form of analysis, of catharsis, of revelation. I’m glad it’s the path I stumbled upon and decided to follow.

That’s just the start of my reverse bucket list — there are countless other things I’m thankful for this year. Stay tuned for resolutions! You know they’re coming!

What tops your list this holiday season?

BABY, CAKE LITERARY, Creative Writing, FAMILY, KAVYA, NAVDEEP SINGH DHILLON, Reverse Bucket List, Sona Charaipotra, THANKFUL

, ,
Comment

5046049216_9ccb01675a_zI almost managed to forget what today was. Between getting Kavi out the door for her new pre-school and the inevitable drama that occurs there as I try to leave her to her breakfast (tears over a muffin this morning), I was frazzled enough to just be fretting over an impending deadline, my writing schedule for the day, whether Navdeep would remember to grab a bite after his class and before he settled in to the rest of the chaos the day would bring. Then, walking in to a coffee shop for a quick cup, there it was — the call-out of the nearly 3,000 souls we lost that horrific day. And I knew, as much as I might try to forget, it will always live on. So this morning, taking a moment to reflect, I thought I’d share a post I wrote two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the attack we now call simply 9/11. It still stands very much today.

I’ve been dreading today. For week and months, I’ve been avoiding the hype, the news, the tourists, the sorrow. Especially the sorrow. Because it’s so heavy, I feel like I might just drown in it. The weight of being a part of that “where-were-you” moment, the moment that defines my generation, whether you were in New York or Timbuktu.

I was in New York of course. I was on my merry, oblivious way, headed to the center of the city that was the center of the world, coming from the Upper West Side to my office in Rockefeller Center.

Two days earlier, I had hob-nobbed with the likes of Britney Spears, Beyonce and Usher at the MTV VMAs. I got to write up the story and it was to be a central feature. I was 24. I was Living. The. Life. And then it all came screeching to a halt.

That morning, as I walked to my building, I noticed people outside staring up at billowing clouds of rancid black smoke. It was coming from downtown. Apparently there had been a fire. Still, I made my merry way. And I as I headed into the building my dad called – he never called this early in the morning – demanding to know where I was. “I’m going to work dad,” I told him, incredulous that he would be asking. Work. It’s what I did.

And then I remember him saying the words. “The Twin Towers are no more.” As if they were people. Because really, they were people. Thousands and thousands of strangers, who over the course of the day would begin to have faces and names and families. The weight of it was staggering.

Still, like an automaton or an idiot (likely both), I didn’t turn around to go home to New Jersey and be with my family. I walked into that building in a daze. I would spend the next 22 hours there, closing my stupid VMA story (“Just in case,” my boss told me. Just in case the death of thousands in our very own city was not enough to merit bumping the VMAs.) and then interviewing those frantically searching for and mourning their loved ones on the very day it happened. This wasn’t what I had signed up for at all. In between phone calls and fact checks, I bawled. There was a skeleton crew of us who had made it to the office, but despite my sister’s frantic calls to security demanding I be sent home – and emails from loved ones all the way in India, demanding to know that I was okay – I had never felt so alone.

The 9/11 issue we crashed was beautiful. It had stark, shocking images and in-depth reporting about the missing and the dead and the individuals and a nation that mourned them. It was a good piece of reporting. But still, to me, it wasn’t worth 22 heart-wrenching hours away from my loved ones. I don’t even have a copy of it today. I wouldn’t want to see it.

In the end, I got off easy. I didn’t lose loved ones. I didn’t lose my life. Still, in a way, that was the day that changed everything. In a way, change came very slowly. I stayed on the fast-track-to-nowhere at that office for five more years, thinking maybe, just maybe. But I was disillusioned. By that day, and by those after it, when news came of South Asians and other people of color being harassed by their fellow Americans, being shot in the back and killed in the name of justice when they really had nothing to do with anything. I tried to bring these important stories to my editors, but was told that they just didn’t have a happy enough ending. News flash: some stories don’t come with a happy ending. That doesn’t render them unimportant.

Today, ten years later, I woke nose-to-nose with my little Kavya. We’re now across the river from Ground Zero, not a ten minute Path ride away. Thousands will gather there this morning, this very minute.

But to me, it’s still a place of mourning. Mourning the thousands that died, mourning the death of the innocence of a nation, mourning the death of the innocence and optimism of one stupidly na?�ve young girl.

I’m not her anymore. I feel freer, in a lot of ways. The burden of that hustle is gone. It’s been replaced by clarity and a different sense of purpose. In some small way, I did get to help bring some of those stories to light. Not at People magazine. But where they were needed, really, to the youth of the nation, thanks to my sister and Sway and the power of MTV – which is much-maligned, but does come through when it’s really necessary. I’m thankful for that.

And I’m so thankful for where I’m sitting ten years later. At home with my little family, not far from that city or even the heart of Ground Zero. I’m still very much in my heart a New Yorker.

The fear is still there sometimes – especially today with the alarmists and the terror alerts – but there’s a different kind of optimism, a wiser one, that accompanies it. It tells me, every so often when that old panic starts to set in – that I’ll-never-get-anywhere-or-do-anything gleam in the eye – to breathe, to take my time, to enjoy my moments. To work hard and make it happen, but to remember that it’s not the end of the world. To never forget, yes. But also to remember that sometimes you need to let go. Just a little bit.

So that’s “where-I-was” when it happened. But I think where I am now is so much more important. As it should be, for all of us.

Photo by TedKerwin/Flickr

9/11, CAKE LITERARY, CELEBRITY, Creative Writing, Events, FAMILY, MAGAZINE JOURNALISM, NEW YORK CITY, PEOPLE MAGAZINE, SEPT. 11, SEPTEMBER 11TH, Sona Charaipotra, VMAS, WORLD TRADE CENTER, Writing
Comment

This week, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be starting a Parade.com column on a subject very close to my (young-at) heart — teen and YA culture. I’ll be writing about teen books, TV and movies — from my beloved Vampire Diaries and the awesome new Twisted to super-fun books like the upcoming Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Since Parade.com posts are short and sweet, I’ll likely post some fun outtakes here on my own site.

First up for the column was this week’s interview with Matthew Quick, the brilliant author behind Silver Linings Playbook, the book whose adaption earned Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar earlier this year. Quick is also known for his incisive YA reads, and his latest, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, is a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat examination of the inner workings of an unstable, suicidal teen who plans to shoot his ex-best friend and then himself. It’s definitely worth checking out.

In the meantime, head on over to Parade.com to read my interview with former English teacher Matthew, who’s fun and uber-insightful.

And I’ll post outtakes from the interview — including Matthew’s take on getting boys to read — here next week.

CAKE LITERARY, CELEBRITY, Creative Writing, Entertainment, MAGAZINE JOURNALISM, NEW YORK CITY, Parade, Parade.com, Sona Charaipotra, Writing
Comment

Last week, I wrote about my favorite APPs for writerly types — including Scrivener and Crashplan. There were a few others I kept wanting to add to the list, but then I realized they weren’t really APPs for writers — they were APPs for readers. And while there’s so much overlap, there is a difference.

So, herewith, my three favorite APPs for readers.

Kindle for iPad: I truly LOVE my iPad mini. It’s so cute and portable, and I can check email or social media, watch True Blood or Days of Our Lives, an, most importantly, READ. I have several reading-oriented APPs on the iPad, but the most convenient is my Kindle, which it makes it easy to read recently downloaded books from Amazon. The great thing about the APP is that Amazon.com so frequently has steals on books that I’ve been meaning to read, like Sarah Jio’s Violets of March or Meg Donahue’s How to Eat A Cupcake. And it handily keeps track of exactly where I left off in each book.

Overdrive for iPad: Here’s a really well-kept secret — these days, you can download eBooks from the library. For free! And no, this isn’t just a fancy New York City thing. Using the Overdrive APP, you can browse your library’s selection of eBooks and even audiobooks, checking them out for up to three weeks at a time. And when they expire, they just simply disappear, you don’t even have to remember to return them. The other awesome thing: if a book is checked out already, you can put yourself on the waiting list, and your library will send you a reminder email when it becomes available to download. And all those books you meant to check out are on the list. Yes, even 50 Shades of Grey.

Feedly: Many lamented the loss of the google reader, but I must admit, I’d never even tried it. And I’d still be flipping from site to site if my sister hadn’t finally insisted I try Feedly, this super-slick RSS reader that gathers all your favorite news and entertainment resources into one handy-dandy feed. It even looks slick and pretty. There’s an APP specifically for the iPad, but if you’re using your laptop, you can log in to your feed on your web browser, too, so you’ll never miss a thing. And it makes it all look pretty, too.

What’s your favorite APP for readers? 

Apps For Readers, Apps For Writers, Creative Writing, Entertainment, Feedly, Kindle, Kindle For iPad, MAGAZINE JOURNALISM, NEW YORK CITY, Overdrive, Sona Charaipotra, Writing
Comment

secretgardenOkay, so I admit it. While I love YA, I have a lot harder time getting back into the middle grade mind-frame. Obviously, it wasn’t always this way. Amongst my favorite books are titles like The Secret Garden and the long-running Babysitters Clubseries, which I would devour as soon as the next installment came out. And it pleases me to see that the series continues to grow and evolve, no doubt inspiring new generations to ponder whether they’re going to be business-minded tomboys like Kristen or fashionistas-in-training like Claudia.

But I’ve yet to try my hand at writing middle grade (defined as books for eight to 12-year-olds) — although some of my characters in one particular work-in-progress do pass through those ages and stages. I can’t quite get back there.

The folks that run these three fabulous middle grade oriented blogs, though, they’re all about it. So check them out if you need some inspiration to harken back to those torturous awkward years.

Middle Grade Ninja
Run by future author Robert Kent, this clean and very readable blog focuses on the genre as both a craft and a business, with author interviews, and inside scoop from agents and editors.

From the Mixed Up Files
Another one of those sassy group blogs, From the Mixed Up Files — which takes its name from the awesome tome by E.L. Konigsburg — follows the travails of some 30 — yes 30 — middle grade writers at various stages of publishing life. Cleverly divided into sections for kids, for parents, for teachers and for writers, Mixed Up offers something for everyone.

Blogging, Blogs We Love, CAKE LITERARY, Creative Writing, Entertainment, From The Mixed Up Files, Middle Grade Ninja, Sona Charaipotra, Writing
Comment

Scrivener2Let’s face it. Technology can be a major time suck — especially if you’re like me and not super adept with it in the first place. But occasionally, you’ll trip over an APP that might just make your life easier. I’ve found a couple of these over the years, via friends or my husband, who magically updates my computer with stuff when I’m puttering around the kitchen or watching Days of Our Lives.

Herewith, a few of my favorites.

Scrivener: It seems like this should be considered actual software, but hey, I downloaded it from the APP store, so I’m counting it here. The ultimate in writer apps, Scrivener is like a modern-day, uber-sleek take on the typical word processing software, with fun capabilities like folders for chapters that you can just rearrange however you please and a bulletin board for brainstorming, plus a place to store notes and a compiling capability that makes your manuscript look all fancy and official. There’s a learning curve here for sure — I’ve been using it for months and have yet to really go exploring (because, let’s face it, I’m scared) — but it’s well worth trying even if you’re tech-challenged like I am. $45.

Wunderlist: This is a really neat way to track all your to-dos all in one place. I’ve got separate lists for fiction and freelancing, home stuff and fun times. It let’s you put things on your schedule, set a due date and send yourself a reminder, plus share tasks with others via email. There’s even a spot for your movies-to-see, a shopping list and a Wishlist of things you’re a hopin’ for. The best part? Why, checking things off of course! Get the free version!

Pomodoro App: A classic productivity timer, Pomodoro clocks your tasks at 25 minute intervals, giving you a 5 minute break in between, until competition. You can use it online or download the actual app, which will track your tasks even when you’re sans WiFi. Pomodoro, too, allows you to divide tasks into multiple to-do lists and also let’s you set a deadline and reminders. Get the free version!

Mac Freedom: You know you’re a procrastinator if your husband has to actually go and download this APP for you. (Yup, that’s me.) Mac Freedom is scarily useful in that it disables your computer’s WiFi access for a set amount of time, ensuring that you can not get on the internet to dilly-dally when you should be writing. Sigh. Very necessary. However, I’m still too weak to try their latest — Anti-Social — which blocks your access to time-suckers like Facebook and Twitter. $10 for Mac.

Crashplan: Another miracle my husband discovered for me, Crashplan quietly, efficiently backs up everything on your precious computer around-the-clock, ensuring that your writings are safely kept as you sleep or eat or whatever it is people do when they’re not writing. Paired with a Time Machine or hard-drive back-up, Crashplan offers writerly peace of mind. Plans start at only $2 a month!

What’s your favorite APPs for writers? 

Apps For Writers, Awesome Apps, Blogathon 2013, Blogging, Creative Writing, Freelance Writing, Sona Charaipotra, Writing, Writing Life
Comment

Yesterday, I rounded up some of the best online communities for writers focusing on KidLit and YA. Blogs are another fabulous way to learn about the genres, from writers at different stages of their publishing path, from aspiring author to bestsellers. There are plenty of writers chronicling their journey through the ever-changing publishing landscape. Here are just a few worth checking out in the YA arena. (More to come on Middle Grade and Picture Books later this week.)

Warning: You can lose entire days perusing these — so proceed with caution!

YA Books Central
A comprehensive community for YA writers and readers alike, this site offers up reviews, news, sneak peeks, giveaways and plenty more.

YA LIT Chat
An organization focused on fostering discussion amongst writers — and readers — YA LIT Chat hosts weekly Twitter chats on various topics, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re on Twitter (or worth making an account for if you’re not).

Agent Spotlight: by Casey McCormick
No doubt one of the major go-to resources for authors on an agent hunt, Casey McCormick’s blog offers detailed profiles of potential agents in the YA and KidLit markets.

Nathan Bransford’s Blog
He may no longer be an agent, but that doesn’t make now-author Nathan Branford’s blog any less worthy. He’s still offering up publishing insights a plenty, plus he’s got an amazing backlog of posts well worth digging through.

 TeenWritersBloc.com
Admittedly, I’m one of the co-founders of this blog — but that doesn’t make it any less fabulous. TeenWritersBloc.com, run by the New School Writing for Children Class of 2012, gives you an inside look at the YA MFA program at the university — as well as life post-MFA for the graduates, many of whom have gone on to publish.

KidLitosphere.com
A massive listing of YA and KidLit blogs, this site can be intimidating, but it’s an awesome place to start perusing if you’re new to the genre. Plus, there’s a listserv for KidLit and YA bloggers that you can join to get in on the conversation.

Fuse 8: School Library Journal’s blog
The YA Books blog at the School Library Journal, written by the tireless Betsy Bird, who also pulls together conferences and meet-n-greets, Fuse 8 offers up news and reviews worth reading.

PublishingCrawl.com
A group blog, Publishing Crawl offers an insider’s perspective on publishing, with posts by writers, editors, agents and other folks in the know. A real eduction in an easy-to-read format.

Diversity in YA
A great experiment by authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo, who founded the blog as they embarked on a year-long book tour promoting, well, diversity in YA. Amazingly, the site was one of the few resources of its kind, and it was a sad, sad day when the duo behind it called it quits. But now it’s back — in Tumblr form — and you betcha it’s worth checking out.

CBC Diversity
Advocating for inclusivity in children’s publishing, this site by the Children’s Book Council rounds up posts by agents, editors and authors on how to get more diversity into the arenas of YA and KidLit. Post from esteemed voices like Andrea Pinkney of Scholastic and Cheryl Klein at Arthur A. Levine (who also has a fabulous blog of her own). Start with their awesome “How I Got Into Publishing” series, which offers up some truly inspiring stories.

John Green Books
YA It Boy John Green was a prolific blogger with a mega-presence online — and an incredibly loyal fanbase — even before the success of New York Times‘ Bestseller The Fault In Our Stars. (And if you haven’t read it yet — what are you waiting for?)

YA Highway
Another fabulous a group blog, YA Highway is another time suck of a site — so make sure you’ve set your pomodoro app, or you’ll be there all day — that shares author interviews, agent and editor Q&As, craft tips and plenty of writerly angst.

Nova Ren Suma
Author Nova Ren Suma — whose books include Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone — offers up great interviews and insights on her long-running blog. Dig deep here. It’s fascinating to follow Suma’s process from struggling writer to successful author, and she’s very candid about the highs and lows of the publishing biz.

What’s your favorite YA Books blog?

Creative Writing, Fuse 8, John Green, Nova Ren Suma, Writing, Writing Life, Writing Resources
Comment

Since graduating from my MFA program last year, I’ve been slacking big time on meeting my creative writing goals — even as I hound other people (like my husband Navdeep) on theirs.

So, for the summer, I’ve decided to implement a new form of accountability — in the form of what I like to call my Chapter Challenge. I’ve already got about 125 pages of my current work-in-progress. I’ve revised my first couple of chapters, and now I return to the heavy work of writing new pages. My aim for the summer is to complete my draft — and I plan to do so by writing a chapter a week. It’s not a huge, lofty, unattainable goal — that’s what usually causes my downfall. It’s pretty simple, really. A chapter is a relatively quick turn-around for me once I actually sit down to write. So really, my goal is to sit down to write.

Given all the other chaos that this summer will bring — Navdeep and I will be putting our place on the market and looking for a new one, plus there’s work and lots of family time as we launch Mission Ishq on IshqInABackpack.com — I’ve decided the only way to get serious about this is to treat my writing as if it is a part of my workday. If I don’t get my hours in, if I don’t get my chapter done, I don’t get paid, right? Right.

The key to this, for me, will be leaving my apartment to work. If I’m home, there’s always the lure of the kitchen (whipping up a fun lunch instead of upping my word count), the drone of cleaning, the stress of work. And occasionally, the distraction of Navdeep! So I plan to head to the coffee shop around the corner for an hour or two daily and pound out a few pages. Over the course of the week, it’ll add up to a chapter — and over the course of the summer, it’ll amount to a completed first draft.

I’ll check in here for further accountability, but I also have a few taskmasters I’ll be reporting in to regularly — you know who you are!

What do you hope to accomplish this summer? And how do you plan to do it?

CAKE LITERARY, Creative Writing, Sona Charaipotra, Writing, Writing Life
Comment