SnapShot Reading

In an effort to keep my blogging simple I like to just share a book that I’m currently reading.

Today I’m sharing:


Me and Miranda Mullaly by Jake Gerhardt

So far it’s pretty cute!



NetGalley Month, Winners and Giveaways – OH MY!

NetGalley Month

Once again Emily at Red House Books is hosting NetGalley Month!  (If you own an ereader, write reviews and don’t know what NetGalley is get there now!!)
During the month of July we will be trying to get through as many NetGalley books as week can.  I’m hoping to get through:
Cinder and Ella
Ok for Now
The Magnificent 12: The Trap
Nerd Girls
The Cellar

Last time I only got through two books, but I’m on summer vacation now, so I’m hoping for more.  I’ve already started The Magnificent 12 🙂

You can participate too.  Just go to Red House Books to see the details (there are prizes!!)


A couple of GIVEAWAYS you might be interested in:

Rachel at Fiktshun: Strictly for Fiction is celebrating 500 followers and giving away either a Kindle or Nook!!! Seriously! And the best part – the entry is super easy 🙂  Go HERE to check it out!!
And psssst while you’re there, check out her blog because it’s awesome!!!

Jessie at Elliott Review is having three blogoversary giveaways.  Check them out HERE!

I have a couple of winners to announce:
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairy Land:       Gayle
Discovery Girls 10 Year Collector’s Edition:      Shanna
Both have been contacted and replied back.  Congrats!!!

Author Interview: Uma Krishnaswami +GIVEAWAY

I’m very excited to welcome Uma Krishnaswami to The O.W.L. today.  I had the great fun of reading her book The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.  You can check out my review HERE.  I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did!

Welcome to The O.W.L. Uma Krishnaswami!

For your most current book – what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?

I’m proud of the BFF’s, Dini and Maddie, of course, but I’m also very fond of Lal, who works for India Post, delivers the mail, and copes with a grumpy postmaster for a boss. Until he showed up, the story was inching long. It wasn’t enough. I needed it to fly, literally, with the letter that the young protagonist, Dini, writes to her favorite Bollywood movie star, Dolly Singh. When I got to that point in the draft I found myself up against a brick wall. There was only one thing I could do. I had to leave Dini in Maryland and follow that letter to India. I knew I’d catch up with her again, but I had to find out what happened to that letter. Lal the postal carrier made that possible. He was a complete surprise to me, as were most of the post office scenes, and the story voice I found myself using to write them. I had no idea the story was going to veer off in that direction but once I let it, I was able to pick up

 a pace that I couldn’t manage before. I’d been struggling with it, but once I made that choice, it became great fun to write.

Tell about your writing process.  How long did it take you to write your current book from idea to finish?  Please tell about revision is you can!

The idea came from an editor who sent me an article about Indian-Americans returning to India and living in these really luxurious gated communities, creating little Americas for themselves. I took that idea of moving to India but changed it so that instead of going there to make money like the people in the article, this family was going back for different reasons. The mother, who’s a doctor, wants to work in a little clinic on a dream project of hers. I tried writing the story in many different ways, but they were all just plain linear storytelling. Beginning, middle, end, all in a straight line. None of it worked. The story only began working when a quirky narrative voice crept in along with text in many genres including e-mails, text messages, letters, and magazine articles.

The whole process from the very beginning took about 4-5 years. I set aside the first four drafts completely, just deleted them and emptied the trash. When I read your question, I went back and looked at the number of different revisions saved on my hard drive. I counted a total of  19. So that was 19 separate revisions, and that’s not including journal notes and some scenes that never made it into the story. Revision’s great. It’s where the real writing takes place. The draft is just a way for me to tell myself the story. In revision I get to figure out how I’m going to tell it to a reader.

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?

The fictional town of Swapnagiri in the book is based on a number of small towns in the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains of south India. It’s a part of the subcontinent that I love, with a completely unique ecosystem–winding hill roads and acres of tea gardens, pepper vines, native pines, all kinds of flowers, and amazing, eccentric, wonderful people. The landscape is real, and the flowers that bloom every twelve years are real (although I shifted the year of the bloom a little). The house with the blinky-looking windows is real and it’s really called “Sunny Villa.” Everything else is made up. Real life (well, mine anyway) is pretty ordinary and boring. For example, I do not hang out with Bollywood stars!

How much say did you have in the cover of this book?  What is the process for creating a cover (my students are always curious about this!)

I love the cover. I was sent a pdf file with a sketch in the early stages of development of the cover art. I did suggest a few changes, mostly related to place names and locations on the map, as well as to the copy on the back. Later I got to see a fuller design including jacket copy. The tangle of arrows on the back was my idea, to show Dolly’s scattered nature. I’m delighted to say that all my comments were given serious consideration and the artist, Abigail Halpin, used them all. The same was true for the interior black and white art. I got to see all those images along the way and to offer my comments.

What kind of student were you?  Was English your favorite subject in school and did you always write?

I was a great student in the subjects I loved, and a moderate student in subjects I wasn’t so wild about. English was one of my favorite subjects, but also geography and history, or what’s called Social Studies in the US (I grew up in India). I loved maps as a child, and was always drawing maps of imaginary places. And yes, I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t write. My mother tells me they sent me off to pre-school when I was around two years old because I got bored at home and started drawing on the wall. Any wall writers reading this? I do remember drawing on another wall in another house when I was about five or six, and I also hammered away for fun on my father’s old Remington typewriter.

My parents moved a lot on account of my father’s job, so every four years I’d have to change schools. We had no TV so I relied on books to keep me entertained. I went through shy and awkward phases and it wasn’t always easy to make friends. Books helped me find a way of relating to the world. They gave me courage sometimes, and hope, and they took me to places very different from my own. 

And because it’s the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? Whoooo are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?

Here’s WHOOO I admire among authors writing today: Marion Dane Bauer. She writes everything–picture books, novels, short stories, easy readers. Another writer I admire is Ruskin Bond, who is English by birth and has lived in India most of his life. He’s truly made writing his life, and he is brilliant, kind, and generous. Finally, my special admiration is reserved for every one of my marvelous colleagues at the Vermont College of Fine Arts where I teach:

Now let’s skip to the last century, when I grew up and see WHOOO I admired back then. As a child, I read and loved the work of many British authors: Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Noel Streatfeild, E. Nesbit, and above all Enid Blyton, whose series titles I zoomed through. As a teenager I discovered a book called The River by Rumer Godden. It was the first novel I’d ever read that was set in India. It opened my eyes. It was as if she was giving me permission to write in English about things I knew. I must have read that book through a dozen or more times. Even now I sometimes find myself focusing on something very small and detailed in a scene I’m writing–a slant of light or the sound of water–and I realize that I learned to do that by reading Rumer Godden’s book.

Thank you Uma! I was so excited about what you said about Lal!  He really was my favorite character and the one who really pulled me through the story. So glad you found him and made him play a role.

To learn more about Uma:

Watch the book trailer on Uma’s homepage with lovely shots of India:

Uma’s blog:

Now for the giveaway!!!!
A Grand Giveaway! Three lucky Grand Prize winners will each receive one copy of THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING along with a starry assortment of bangles and trinkets that Dolly Singh, famous famous Bollywood movie star, would adore! An additional 3 runners-up will receive a copy of THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING. To enter, send an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you’re under 13, submit a parent’s name and e-mail address). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 6/30/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 7/1/11 and notified via email.

Waiting on Wed: The Lost Hero

This is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post I talk about books yet to be released that I’m excited about OR already published book’s I’ve seen that I’m really wanting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers aren’t sharing so that more books are shared!
This week I’m waiting on:
The Lost Hero
Release Date: Oct. 12, 2010

I think it should be pretty clear why I’m waiting on this one.  Rick Riordan + More Olympians = kids wanting to read!
It’s a teacher’s favorite combination.

From Goodreads
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.

Summer Reading Update and Owl of the Week

This summer I am tracking my summer reading in three ways:

Number of books read

Number of minutes read

Number of pages read

I’ve decided that on Monday I’ll give a quick update at where I’m at, so here’s my first update  :

Number of books: 2

Number of minutes: 6 hours 23 minutes
Number of pages: 644
On my way 🙂 I just finished The Maze Runner, and I’ll be reviewing it for Friday’s for the Guys this Friday.
Now for the Owl of the Week
My sweet daughter found this kit at the craft store and made it for me.  I fits my Ipod Touch perfectly!

Sunday Shelves May 23

I am weirdly facinated by other people’s bookshelves and why they arrange them how they do. I took this and created a weekly feature, Sunday Shelves. In this feature I highlight the bookshelves of different bloggers and readers.
This Week I’m Featuring:
Misty over at The Book Rat has been posting pictures of her different colored shelves. She groups books of the same color together. The result is pretty cool! I asked her if I could share these posts, and she agreed!

Here are her shelves.  Click on the color for each shelf to be taken to her post about it.
Her Purple Shelf

The Red Shelf
The Green Shelf
The Orange Shelf
The Yellow Shelf

Now isn’t that a cool way to arrange your shelves?!?! Love it!

Waiting on Wednesday – 39 Clues Books 9 and 10

This is a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. In this post we talk about books yet to be released that we are excited about. I do that, but sometimes I also like to talk about great books I have, but are waiting to read. I also like to try and find books other bloggers are using so that more books are shared!

The books I’m waiting on are:

Storm Warning: 39 Clues Book #9
by Linda Sue Park
To be released: May 25
Into the Gauntlet
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
To be released: August 31

Why I’m waiting for these books:
I am currently reading the first book aloud to my students.  They seem to really be enjoying it.  One student took her dad to Borders and tried to get him to buy her all the books published so far! Any series that can get kids that interested needs to hurry up and get here! Another student got on the computer to find out what branch of the family he is (I told the kids I’m curious if any of them are the Lucian branch.  I’m Ekaterina.). And to top it off the series has actions, mystery and great characters! Anyone else waiting for these?

From Goodreads for #9
On the hunt for The 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill uncovered shocking information about their past – from what happened the night their parents died to the shattering discovery about their family branch.

But the biggest secret of all remains behind Grace Cahill’s alternate will. Now, Amy and Dan are about to discover a long-hidden secret of the Cahils – a secret so dangerous that people died to protect it. Will this be the end of them? Or just the end of everything they think they knew?

From Barnes and Noble for #10
Throughout the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill have uncovered history’s greatest mysteries and their family’s deadliest secrets. But are they ready to face the truth about the Cahills and the key to their unmatched power? After a whirlwind race that’s taken them across five continents, Amy and Dan face the most the difficult challenge yet- a task no Cahill dared to imagine. When faced with a choice that could change the future of the world, can two kids succeed where 500 years worth of famous ancestors failed?