Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guest post with Kristi Wientge, author of KARMA KHULLAR'S MUSTACHE

Today we are thrilled to host Kristi Wientge, author of KARMA KHULLAR'S MUSTACHE, published August 15, 2017 by Simon and Schuster. Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume. Be sure to stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Postpartum Book Baby Depression

You’ve seen the photos of authors wrapping their books up in baby blankets or the writing community wishing fellow authors Happy Book Birthday.

I’m a mother of four, so I’ve had my fair share of babies and I’ve written six manuscripts some of which I’ve spent years on trying to get just right. Like the unique challenges I’ve faced with each child, books are all too similar. So, I understand this comparison and want to expand on it because there is much more than just getting a book out there, after all, giving birth doesn’t end there. You have an ever-developing relationship with your child and any possible future children—books or human.

Also, one of the less talked about truths of giving birth is the depression, doubt, fear and/or complete lack of feeling that can follow. I’ve felt a mixture of one or more of the above emotions after the birth of each of my children, but I never expected to feel any of this after my book came out—or gave birth to it—or whatever.

There were weeks where I couldn’t string together a sentence. There were days I was sure my agent saw something in me that I’d faked and could never replicate. AND if my agent had gotten all wrong, then what in the world had my editor been thinking? Good reviews didn’t really seem to matter because how was I ever going to pull it off again?

I’m no doctor and there is no medicine to cure postpartum book baby depression, but I can share a few pointers that helped me through the slump.

1. Don’t be your own worst enemy.

a. You can protect your time—that may mean early mornings or late nights or cutting off Netflix.

b. You can demand time—I often feel un-empowered by this, after all, the kids have homework, then there’s dinner to cook and laundry, etc, etc. So, how do I demand my time? I’m off duty at 8pm. Do it yourself or go to bed. My husband isn’t the kind to take the kids out for hours at a time and give me that space, so I have to carve it out when I can. If I keep treating my writing as my “dirty little secret” that wracks me with guilt, those who aren’t supportive of it are also going to view it this way.

2. Surround yourself with people who “get” it and will support you. None of my CP’s live in Singapore. Even if they hopped on a plane to help me, it’d take them a day and too much money BUT I can post on Facebook in our private group and get at least 10 to 20 encouraging comments, helpful tips and suggestions to spur me on.

3. Don’t give up! The struggle is real. Acknowledge it. Work through it. Nothing worth it comes without some pain and struggle.

Kristi Wientge is originally from Ohio where she grew up writing stories about animals and, her favorite, a jet-setting mouse. After studying to become a teacher for children with special needs, she spent several years exploring the world from China to England, teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids inside out. She’s spent twelve years raising her family in her husband’s home country of Singapore, where she spends her days taking her four kids to school, Punjabi lessons, and music. With the help of her mother-in-law, she can now make a mean curry and a super-speedy saag. Karma Khullar’s Mustache is her debut novel.

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cover Reveal for FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS by Rachele Alpine

Today we're super excited to host the cover reveal for Rachele Alpine's upcoming middle grade novel, FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS! I love that title (and not just because it immediately made me think of Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor), and I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

First, a little about the book . . .

Brooklyn Gartner eats, sleeps, and breathes ballet. But after her mom gets remarried and moves them to Texas, everything changes. Brooklyn’s life ends up being all about football. Football is all her parents—not to mention the entire town—seem to talk about. It’s not like she can ever get a break from it either because her new stepbrother is the star of Leighton High School’s football team.

Brooklyn has a chance to escape the football-obsessed fans if she can get into her dream high school, The Texas School of the Arts, where she’ll be able to pursue her passion for dance. But first she has to make it through a big showcase, where a ton of scouts will be watching-including one from TSOA. She doesn’t mind the extra rehearsal time. That is, until the middle school football players invade her dance studio, thanks to a new conditioning program that will (hopefully) help them with stamina and coordination. The studio was Brooklyn’s sanctuary—and now even that seems to be ruined by football!

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Brooklyn’s dance partner gets injured, and she is left to pair up with Logan, a football player on the middle school team, in order to perform for her audition. But there is one condition to his offer: Brooklyn has to at least try to learn the game of football and respect what the team does, and he will do the same for her—and hopefully get her into her dream school.

With some fancy footwork, teamwork and a little understanding, can Brooklyn make her mark, and finally feel comfortable in her new life?

The cover . . .

Perfect, right? Here's what Rachele had to say about it . . .

I’m so happy to share this cover with all of you. I love that it’s not too girly and not too sporty; it’s just the right mix of both! And the look on the faces of my two main characters, Brooklyn and Logan, capture the fun competitive edge between the two of them perfectly. And can we talk about the freckles on Brooklyn’s face!?! As someone who grew up covered in freckles, I am so excited that the artist added them to Brooklyn! 
FRIDAY NIGHT STAGE LIGHTS will be out in Fall 2018 from Aladdin M!X/Simon & Schuster. I don't know about you, but to me, that seems like forever away! In the meantime, we can catch up on Rachele's other middle grade books -- OPERATION PUCKER UP, YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL, and BEST. NIGHT. EVER. Or her young adult novels -- CANARY and A VOID THE SIZE OF THE WORLD.

One of Rachele Alpine’s first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. Rachele is a high school English teacher by day, a wife and mother by night, and a writer during any time she can find in between. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she writes middle grade and young adult novels. Find Rachele on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

K10: The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene

The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers.

Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Olivia. 12. Black raspberry.

What book did you read and why did you choose it?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene. Although John Greene is evil because he is really mean to his book characters, it was still a good read. [editor's note: We at The Kidliterati hesitate to call any of our favorite authors evil, but Olivia kind of has a point, so we'll let it stand.]

Can you describe this book in one word?


What was your favorite part of this story?

Don't think I'm a bad person, but I actually liked it when [editor's note: Olivia wasn't super great at avoiding spoilers, so lets's all just move along here.]

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do?

I'd ask my family to pull the [editor's note: Yeah, more spoilers. Also, seriously Olivia? You might consider finding someone to talk to about this stuff.]

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book?

Do you like sobbing uncontrollably? Then this book is for you. [editor's note: I don't like sobbing uncontrollably, but lately I can't seem to stop.]

What do you think about the book's cover?

It was eye-catching and made me want to read it. [Me again. Can we talk a little more about the sobbing? It's been months now. I don't know what to do.]

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not?

No because it wouldn't be the same. [It's not just the book. It's everything.]

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one?

Looking for Alaska. [editor's editor's note: We are sorry about the last editor. He's been going through a tough time. We'll be editing the rest of this post while he gets some much needed rest.]

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be?

Why are you such a mean person? [editor's editor's note: Again, we at Kidliterati feel we must unequivocally state that we don't call our favorite authors mean unless they really, really deserve it.]

[final editor's editor's note: We can't say why John Greene likes making people cry so much, but if it makes you feel any better, Olivia, there's this: John Green Cried Every Day While On The Set Of ‘The Fault In Our Stars]


The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Congrats to Ronni Arno and MOLLY IN THE MIDDLE!

The Kidliterati are so excited for Ronni's new middle grade novel!

Twelve-year-old Molly Mahoney is in the middle of everything. She’s in the middle of her parent’s impending divorce. She’s in the middle of her rebellious older sister and her lazy younger sister. She’s in the middle of her class, ranked at exactly 143 out of 286. Even her name (first and last!) places her right in the middle of the alphabet. And after a morning where her parents forget to drive her to school, and the field trip she was supposed to be on leaves without her, Molly decides it’s time to figure out how she can finally be in the spotlight—and stop being invisible.

But her new, outlandish ways put her in a different middle altogether. She now finds herself in the middle of her new, popular group of friends, who think the New Molly is amazing and bold, while her old BFF, Kellan thinks the New Molly is mean and aloof and headed for trouble. What’s worse, Kellan doesn’t hide his feelings. Faced with a probable future in a wheelchair, Kellan doesn’t understand why Molly would risk getting in trouble just to be popular. So when Molly has to choose between going to the year’s biggest party with her new pals, or participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Walk with Kellan, she’s stuck in the middle once again. Can Molly reconcile the Old Molly with New Molly—and figure out the best way to make her mark?

Get your copy:

Much love to Ronni from your Kidliterati friends.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Now is Everything by Amy Giles

Now Is EverythingNow Is Everything by Amy Giles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All seventeen-year-old Hadley wants is to protect her sister from the monster. The monster her mother won’t go against. The brut that pushes her at the gym, and laughs at any pain she suffers, and like a drill sergeant, has her up at the crack of dawn to run every day despite her injuries. The monster is her father.

Hadley can take it. She can take just about anything he dishes out. So long as he stays away from Lila, her 10-year-old, spirited and carefree sister, who’s innocent of his torments, for the most part. Hadley wants to keep it that way and plans to enroll at a local college, instead of Cornell, her father’s alma mater. The college he’s forcing her to attend.

Hadley doesn’t confide in anyone at school, she doesn’t tell her friends what’s happening at home. Hadley suffers alone.
Until she meets Charlie.

All the girls swoon over Charlie, kind, humble, and contentious. Hadley can’t understand why he likes her. They fall hard for each other. But her father’s on to him, becoming suspicious and even more controlling of Hadley until suddenly he’s not. The monster has found Hadley’s weakness and sets his sights. Then the next tragedy strikes; a tragedy that changes everything.

Told in two timelines: then and now. Beautifully written, its subject difficult to read at times. There were many triggers for me, personally. Hadley’s emotional journey of being trapped in an abusive family was written with sensitivity and understanding—and suspense! It was also difficult to put down.

November 2017 Debut Author.  HaperTeen.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: The House of Months and Years by Emma Trevayne

The House of Months and YearsThe House of Months and Years by Emma Trevayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"There are different kinds of darkness, and they can hide inside one another, turn an innocent bedroom into a puzzle of fright."

Ten-year-old Amelia didn't want to move into the old house. She didn't want to leave her best friend, move to a new school, and have her orphaned cousins upend her life. But life is rarely fair.

Amelia sensed something odd about the house right away. Her late uncle's architectural drawings led her to understand it was a Calendar House: twelve rooms, seven fireplaces, a floor for each season. Amelia thought it likely that there were 365 trees on the grounds but she didn't have time to count.

It was the odd shadows that intrigued her the most.

The House of Months and Years is a delightfully gothic middle grade tale. Just enough horror to make young readers cringe but the spookiness is handled gently. Trevayne mixes in a bit of magical realism to give the story a sweeping scope.

Highly recommended as a start to an October full of haunted tales.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Guest post with Supriya Kelkar, author of AHIMSA

Today we are thrilled to host Supriya Kelkar, author of AHIMSA, recipient of an ALA Booklist starred review, a School Library Journal starred review, and winner of the New Visions Award, a middle-grade novel that takes place in 1940s India, an era of great change as Indian citizens fight for independence from British colonial rule. When ten-year-old Anjali’s mother announces that she has quit her job to become a Freedom Fighter following Mahatma Gandhi, Anjali must find her place in a rapidly changing world. AHIMSA will be published by Tu Books (October 2, 2017). Be sure to stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom of the post!


My journey to publication was less like a quick Waze-navigated journey, smoothly avoiding road blocks and back-ups, and more like a road-trip with my young kids, full of constant stops and a few tears, taking twice as long as I expected.

Back in 2003, while working on the writing team for an Indian production company, I couldn’t get my great-grandmother’s story out of my head. She was an Indian freedom fighter who worked with Mahatma Gandhi, spent time in jail for her participation in the non-violent civil disobedience movement, was told she would be freed if she would just apologize to the government but refused, and later went on to become a two-term congresswoman post-independence.

It was a story full of persistence and resistance featuring a strong female character, and I was certain it would make a great screenplay.

With my great-grandmother’s biography in hand, I set to work on the script, ready to make an award-winning Bollywood biopic. The only problem was, I just could not figure the story out. So I rethought the plan to write a biopic and instead settled on the idea of fictionalizing the story, thinking it might work better if the protagonist was the privileged daughter of the freedom fighter, rather than the freedom fighter, herself. But despite all my research and effort, I still could not get the story to work.

That’s when I had the brilliant idea to write the script as a novel. I thought it would be a quick and easy way to delve deeper into the story, figure out the beats, and put them back into script form. Clearly, I had never written a novel before, because it turned out novel-writing was neither quick nor easy, and when I was done, I had a badly written first draft of AHIMSA. It was so bad, in fact, that I decided to shelve the project, and went back to focusing on the company’s Bollywood scripts, my own scripts, and, after learning a little bit more about writing books, some more novels, which I spent years querying publishers and agents about, to no success.

But every year, in between the dozens of projects and hundreds of query letters and rejections, I’d remember AHIMSA, and do a revision, adding subplots, killing off characters, year after year after year, until I finally got it to a good place in 2015, more than a decade after starting. And that’s when I heard about Tu Books’ New Visions Award.

I entered the competition, found out AHIMSA had won in 2016, and after a year of edits, fourteen years after I wrote the first draft, AHIMSA was finally a real book.

Looking back on the journey, would I have preferred the smooth, quick route? Absolutely. But all that extra time didn’t hurt me, as I thought it had in the moment. Instead, it helped me grow as a writer, helped me learn more about craft, and helped me toughen up to rejection and understand that criticism isn’t something to take personally and get defensive over, but rather, is something to use to improve your work.

So while the quick and easy way is usually my preferred route to travel, in the end, I’m glad my journey was full of bumps and pit stops.

Just remind me of that mantra the next time I’m on a family road trip that takes eight hours to get to Chicago instead of four.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. Winner of the 2015 New Visions Award for her middle grade novel AHIMSA, (October 2, 2017), Supriya is an author and screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films, including Lage Raho Munnabhai and Eklavya: The Royal Guard, India’s entry into the 2007 Academy Awards. She was an associate producer on the Hollywood feature, Broken Horses. Supriya is represented by Kathleen Rushall at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Follow Supriya on Twitter @soups25 and on Instagram @Supriya.Kelkar

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