In My Heart I Am a Poet

As promised last week, here is one of the poems from my little purple notebook.

In my heart, I am a poet.

But the words won’t come

       when bidden.

They come in the night when the world is asleep

         when my mind is empty

and quiet as the room.

Warm cat purring,

down comforter comforting,

a blanket of sleep squeezing tight.

Awake, the words fail to delight.

No longer profound.

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Little Purple Notebook

Sometimes when I’m tired, sentences pop into my head.

I scribble them down in a little purple notebook that I keep by my bedside. Mostly they are story ideas that may or may not go anywhere, or ideas for solving a problem in one of my manuscripts, but occasionally I jot down a poem.

Some of these poems are seared into my brain; some of them I forget as soon as they’re written down. (Sometimes my pen is an eraser of memories.)

I was glancing through my little purple notebook today and thought why not put them in my blog?

So over the next few weeks I’ve scheduled some of them to go online.

I’ll tag them: Little Purple Notebook. I’ll post them approximately once a week until I run out, or until I decide the posts are too embarrassing and I need to delete them all…


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Banned Book Week Discussion

Hi Everyone!

I’m going to be participating in a discussion about banned books as part of Banned Book Week Discussion at Falmouth Public Library. The other speakers will include: author I.W. Gregorio (Ilene Wong), Stephanie Seales, and Sara Hines from Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth.

If you can’t come–I know it’s a little far for some of my Boston area kidlit friends–please share with your friends!

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What’s Amitha up to?

Hi everyone! It’s been a long while since my last blog post. I’ve been busy this summer with my family, my writing projects, and my volunteer projects.

My family’s been busy this summer, going to museums, the beach, hanging out at the neighborhood pool, playing video games, and of course, reading a million books. My younger child is now 3 and has camp 3 days a week over the summer (not every week), so I’ve been enjoying spending time with her while my 6yo is at camp. Unfortunately, this means serious jealousy–the girls fight over their precious time with me–but the 6 yo loves being with friends and has a lot of energy, so she also really, really going to camps. (“Can I PLEASE go to that swimming camp again this year? I’ll be so sad if I can’t!”)

As far as my writing goes, I have been plugging away at my rewrites of middle grade fantasy I co-wrote with my sister a few years ago, based on my trip to Jantar Mantar.  The book was originally in third person, focusing on one character, then it was in first person, and now I’m doing third person again, but alternating between two characters and fleshing out the worldbuilding more. So there’s been a lot of thinking and rewriting and deleting involved!

For the first time, I’ve also been working on picture books! I’ve been wanting to write a picture book for a while, and for some reason, the ideas never flowed for me. I’ve been tinkering with them here and there over the past two years, but it’s taken me some time to get some stories that felt really original enough to pursue. Plus after 6 years of reading them every day to my kids,  I have more of a sense of the rhythm and flow of how the text flows, and the ideas for those have been coming more frequently.

I’m also taking on some freelance work, and in September, I’ll be on a panel at Eight Cousins Bookstore and also attending this workshop at Highlights, which I’m excited about! I’ve been wanting to go the Highlights Foundation for a while now and this was a great opportunity. Thanks to my husband for agreeing to solo parent for a few days right at the beginning of the school year! I may post some pictures if I manage to take good ones with my cell phone.

As far as volunteering goes, I’m now Social Media Manager at WNDB, and also still work on the boskidlit calendar when I have time. Unfortunately I just noticed that the google calendar does not have as many items on it as the Facebook calendar. Oh dear. I guess I’d better fix that soon.

Anyway, I think that’s it. I’ve been doing a lot, so yeah. It might be a while before I blog again.

Catch you later!

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Links from the #NESCBWI16 disability panel

As promised, here are links from the panel on writing disability with author Padma Venkatraman, librarian Carrie Banks (loved this video where she speaks about her library!):

Books recommended by Padma and Carrie:

A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Including Families of Children with Special Needs by Sandra Feinberg, Barbara A. Jordan, Kathleen DeerrMichelle Langa, and Carrie Banks

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Me and Rupert Goody by Barbara O’Connor

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

El Deafo by Cece Bell

When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez

Rogue by Lynn Miller-Lachmann

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrations by Shane W. Evans

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson


“Sympathy is not a positive attitude” – idea from Kenzaburo Oe

Awards (as mentioned, keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t)

IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities

Schneider Family Book Award

Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award

Videos Padma Venkatraman watched while researching her novel

  • Clayton Bates dancing:

  • Adrianne Haslet-Davis dancing:

Online Resources and Further Reading



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Links from My Part-Time Writer, Full-Time Mom #NESCBWI16 Talk

For those of you who attended (and those of you who didn’t!), here are the links I included in the handout at my Part Time Writer, Full Time Mom workshop this past weekend. Some of these I mentioned specifically in the talk, and some are just for further reading. (A big thank you to author Pooja Makhijani for helping me with some of these links!)

Books I’ve enjoyed:

Hilarious stickfigure cartoon post

Related Blog posts and articles to check out (alpha by author)

A Sort of Related Poem I Enjoyed:

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#NESCBWI16 workshops

I’m going to be a part of two workshops at the NESCBWI this coming spring. For some of you who don’t already know, NESCBWI is the New England branch of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and they have a conference every spring. My first conference was back in 2008, but this will be my first time as a presenter!

The conference attendees are an interesting mix of newbies (“What the heck is a query letter?”) and award-winning authors. I love going to this conference because otherwise, I spend most of my time either alone with my computer or scrambling around with my two small (but growing) children. This is my opportunity to talk to actual grownups who care about children’s literature :)

The two workshops I’m doing are both on Sunday. The first is a panel called “Don’t Dis Disability: Writing What You Don’t Know”. This panel features experienced librarian and disability advocate Carrie Banks and award winning author Padma Venkatraman. This topic is a new one for the NESCBWI conference, so I am hoping this is the first of many future conversations about disability in children’s literature.

The other workshop is called “Part-Time Writer, Full-Time Mom: A Discussion on Parenting and Creating Books”. I think the importance of this topic is self-evident :)

I hope you can come! Registration begins February 9th but the info is up now so you can start thinking about which workshops you want to pick.

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The blog formerly known as Monkey Poop

In case you didn’t already notice, I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging. In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the title and colors and such of this blog. Let me know what you think! Good? Bad? Kind of okay or WAY too weird?

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Get to Know Asian American Children’s Authors: Arree Chung, Author and Illustrator of Ninja!


Hi everyone! This week, I’m excited to have Arree Chung, author and illustrator of numerous books, including Ninja!. Based on his responses here, it looks like he’s working on a middle grade novel as well. Can’t wait to see it!

1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?

Well, the character I relate to most is a middle grade book I’m working on titled, Ming Lee. I relate to it the most, well because it’s largely autobiographical!NINJA_CLAN

Ming Lee explores what it means to be American. As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I didn’t completely identify with American or Chinese culture. I felt stuck in-between and belonging to none. When I tried to fit in either culture, I failed at both.  I didn’t have the cool clothes the white kids had at school and I couldn’t speak Chinese. 

Through making a few friends and some embarrassing moments, I learned that there really was no such thing as an American. We all come from different places and I learned that the other “cool” kids at school experienced the same things I experienced- just through a different cultural lens. What made us all American is that we were growing up together and learning about each other. That made us American.

I’m developing the story now and am very excited about it.

2) How_To_Pee_GirlsIf you could give your Asian American kid readers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Read lots of different things. Reading is magical because it gives you the ability to look inside somebody else’s mind. Through reading, you’ll learn about different ideas and cultures. 

Read things that you like already but also try subjects that you many not think you are interested in. You’ll be surprised! 

3) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author or illustrator right now (other than yourself)?How_To_Pee

Well, I have several, so I’ll list a few, ok? 

Dan Santat (Picture Books & Middle Grade) I love Sidekicks and of course Beekle.

Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series

Mariko & Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer.

About the Author:

Arree Chung is the author and illustrator of the popular picture book, Ninja!, which has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal and has been named one of Amazon’s best books for 2014. Ninja! was also named one of NPR’s best children’s books of 2014. Ninja!, Attack of the Clan the followup to Ninja! will be releasing in 2016, along with How to Pee: Potty Training for Girls and Fix-it Man. Arree has a two picture book contract with MacMillan and is also illustrating books from other publishers.

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Last of the Italy trip pics

More from Rome!

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