|Special Library Visit
The Tarpon Springs, Florida, library has a very different book
group called "Adults Who Read Children's Books." The group is
made up of former teachers and librarians as well as current
librarians and others who are interested in books for children
and teens. They meet once a
month to talk about the different middle grade and young adult
books they have read in the previous month. This is
especially helpful to the children's librarian because it lets
her know if there are any special books she should order for her
I was invited to speak to the group and they all read
Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel before the meeting.
We had a great time discussing Evangeline and Farrell and
writing in general!
|Review from Stories for Children
"Stories for Children Magazine"
a free, monthly e-zine for kids 3-12.
Each issue has fun
stories and articles, as well as puzzles, games, children’s book
reviews, crafts, and poems. It also has a great program
for the children's books they review. Once they are
finished with a book, it is donated to a children's
library so that others can read it.
The magazine gave Evangeline Brown a nice review.
|My New Book-in-Progress Receives
Letter of Merit
I am a member of SCBWI (that's the Society of Children's Book
Writers and Illustrators). I recently submitted the
manuscript of the next book I am working on to be considered for the
General Work-in-Progress Grant. Right now the book has the
working title, Hippie Haven, although that can change
(which is why it is called a working title!). It is the
story of a girl in 1969 who is afraid for her brother when he is
sent to Vietnam, while she must stay in the small Colorado town
of Haven with her mother and other hippies and flower children
who are against the war.
While I didn't get the grant, the manuscript was one of 21 (out
of over 400!) to get a Letter of Merit from SCBWI. I feel
very honored to have my novel recognized like that, and am hard
at work finishing it.
|New Reviews Added
Some new reviews of Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel have
been added to my reviews section.
Click here to read what
others have to say. (I'm happy to report they all are
|Author Open House -- A Novel Idea!
A while ago several published authors, a composer, and I formed
a group called the Spindrift Writers to work together to let
people know about our books and music. We had a drop-in
Author Open House at the Cultural Center in Tarpon Springs,
Florida, and called it A Novel Idea! Refreshments
were available, our books were for sale (I brought other books
that have my stories inside them, along with Evangeline Brown),
and we spent the afternoon reading from our novels and giving
short talks. We had a nice crowd that came and went
(that's what an open house is -- people can just drop in and
stay as long as they want), and some people stayed the whole
time. It was a fun afternoon!
|A different kind of book
I was honored when I was asked to write the foreword introducing a new
book, The Artifact: An Anthology. It was written by
nine different authors who met on a fan fiction web site.
They came from all walks of life, live all over the country, and
have never met. Each wrote one chapter of the novel, being
careful not to change the book's basic idea and not to
contradict each other's chapters. The result is an
interesting story about an alien artifact and how it has
affected various lives throughout history as it goes from one
person to another. You can read more about this book
including purchase information
When I visited two
classes at Bay Crest Elementary School
in Tampa, Florida, I was in for some nice
Mrs. Moore, one of the teachers, had already
read them Evangeline Brown
and she said the students really loved the story.
Plus they had already written me some very nice
letters that Mrs. Moore gave me.
When I arrived, they were full of questions
about the story and about writing in general. It
was easy to see that they had put a lot of
thought into what they wanted to know.
Then when our discussion was over, they showed
me the Cadillac Motels some of them had made for
extra credit. I was amazed at how much work they
had put into them -- even down to the room
numbers on the doors and the white chairs in
front! One boy made three rooms inside the motel,
and had the white tablecloth and the vase with
the rose in it from the teacher's visit, the
office with the counter, and Angelique's room
complete with an angel and stars!
I wanted to share their motels with you, so
here are pictures I took of them. Thank you, Mrs.
Moore for inviting me, and thank you students for
letting me spend a wonderful morning with you! It
was such a fun visit!
Models of the
Cadillac Motel made by Bay Crest Elementary
|Other school visits
part of the Vero Beach Book Festival in Vero
Beach, Florida, I visited Gifford Middle School
and Rosewood Magnet Elementary School.
At Gifford Middle School, I
talked to students in the 6th and 7th grades,
with a few from the 8th grade. They came to the
library in three sessions of 50-75 students. I
talked about living in India when I was their
age, as well as a little bit about getting a book
published. Their media specialist, Mrs. Jones,
arranged it all.
Then at Rosewood Magnet Elementary
School, Media Specialist Mrs. See
brought in 4th and 5th grade classes. Some of the
students had published a book of their own
stories as a class project, so they were full of
questions about the publishing process for my
book. Both sessions were such fun!
And don't forget that Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel is an
AR book and on the Accelerated
Reader Book List! Reading it might just get you
|A few other
I attended the The
Villages Literary Festival
at the Lake Miona Regional Recreation Center in
The Villages. The Villages is a huge retirement
community in central Florida that has over 60,000
residents. The title of my presentation was
"You Can Do It Too! Becoming an Author at
Any Age." My sister came along and we
autographed copies of the three different Chicken
Soup for the Soul books that have
my stories (one story was about her) as well as Evangeline
I also went to the Vero Beach Book
Festival on the east coast of Florida.
The authors and illustrators of children's books
made school visits so that every school had
someone visit as part of the festival. On Friday
morning I visited Gifford Middle School, and in
the afternoon I met the students of Rosewood
Magnet Elementary School. In the evening, all of
the authors of both adult and children's books
were invited to an Authors Reception. On
Saturday, the festival moved outside where there
were seminars, panel discussions by authors, and
a Festival Marketplace where people could find
refreshments and other goodies. I had a table on
the Kid's Street and Pavilions.
I also talked to a small group of
teachers in Seminole, Florida, and
discovered that one of them has also written a
book for children. Hers has a Christmas theme.
Then on the day after Thanksgiving, I joined
three other Florida authors at a book signing in The
Book Shop in Venice, Florida. Venice has
a quaint town center, and by the time the signing
was finished, it was dark and the street in front
of the book store was filled with lighted trees
and lamp posts, ready for the holidays. It was
|Evangeline Brown featured
of the television show "Supernanny,"
where kids and adults are helped to learn the
basics of living together as a family. Well, the
show also has a web site, www.supernanny.com,
that offers advice, reward charts, and just about
everything else related to family living. (Hint
for kids: Need help with a homework subject?
Check out their best
homework web sites.)
I'm proud to say that Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel is
featured on the web site as a "Favorite
Books for Summer." Here are all of the recommended
books for ages 0-9. I'm honored that Evangeline
was chosen as one of their "Top Summer
|The U.S.A. in Fiction
for K-8th Grade
If you like to
read stories that take place in the state where
you live (or any other state!), you can find them
U.S.A. in Fiction." It lists books by
state with a sentence telling what the book is
Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac
Motel is listed under Florida,
along with such interesting books as Because
of Winn Dixie and Anna
Casey's Place in the World.
|Student shows her
When Jordan of Lake Mary, Florida, needed to
write a book report, she chose to read Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel.
She emailed to tell me about her project, and
sent me this picture of herself with the Cadillac
Motel she created. She has everything in
it, including the white chairs Eddie and
Angelique painted, the pink Cadillac butt (you
can't see it in this picture but it is around the
corner to the right), Farrell's basketball
leaning against the sign, and in the back, Room
12. Thank you for sending me the picture, Jordan!
you'd like to read her book report, click here.
December 2006 I was interviewed by Cheryl Bentley
of the Suncoast News. She was interested in
my early life in India, and also about Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel and my other
writing. She wrote a nice article that came
out just before Christmas. What a wonderful
Below is a link to the article. There
were also two photographs with the article -- a
current one of me with some of my Indian mementos
and a picture of my parents, a sister, and me
back in 1958 in India. The black and white
picture was blown up from a tiny one, but you can
still see the amazing ancient stone sculptures
the background in Mahabalipuram.
2006 Suncoast News Article:
|Sunshine State (and
Most states have special recommended
reading lists for students, and schools and
libraries make sure they have those books
available for everyone to enjoy. These lists have
different names depending on the state. For
example, Texas has the Bluebonnet Award, Maryland
has the Black-Eyed Susan Award, and Florida has
the Sunshine State Young Readers Award.
I was happy to learn that Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel has
been nominated for the awards in several states,
and especially honored to hear that several
school librarians in Florida thought so much of
the book that they nominated it for Florida's
Sunshine State Award. Only a few books make
the list each year and the Florida winner won't
be announced until next spring, but keep your
fingers crossed! It would be wonderful if
Evangeline is selected as a Sunshine State
is on Accelerated Reader Quiz List
Evangeline Brown and the
Cadillac Motel is on the
Accelerated Reader Book List that is being used
in schools in many states. It has a reading
level of 4.8 and a point value of 7. Maybe
they have the quiz in your school!
Brown awarded the Swiss Prix Chronos!
am happy to announce that the German language
edition of Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac
Motel received the Senior Jury's
2006 Prix Chronos Award in
title in German is Wir zwei gegen den
Rest der Welt, which roughly
translates as The Two of Us Against the
The award was established first in France in
1996. Its purpose is to encourage reading
and to promote a better understanding between the
generations. Each year five to eight books are
selected by the National Gerontology
Foundation to be read and discussed by groups of
students ages 10-13 and older adults. In 2003 in
Romandy (the French-speaking part of
Switzerland), over 800 children and 50 libraries
took part. The award was expanded two years
ago to include German language editions. I
am very honored to have my book selected as the
winner of the Swiss 2006 Prix Chronos!
Click on this
easy-to-understand information about the original French award
|I've Been Quoted!
Digest magazine is one of the best trade
magazines for writers, and I was quoted in the
June 2006 issue! The article, "The
Hazards of Self-Googling" by Jenna Glatzer,
concerned the amount of time writers spend
looking up the titles of their books on the
Internet and how they feel about the comments,
reviews, etc. that they find. Is it a waste
of time? I don't think so, although it can
make my mood soar or really bring me down
depending on what I find. Luckily, I almost
always find such nice comments and reviews!
Thank you readers.
|Classes Read about
Evangeline and Farrell
Evangeline Brown and the
Cadillac Motel is being read and
studied in several middle school classes. The
students of Mrs. Bachman's 6th grade reading
class at Monroe Middle School in Tampa are deep
into the story and are very curious about what
Evangeline will do next. They are also helping
their teacher with the creation of a curriculum
guide for the book by suggesting vocabulary words
to be included. The guide should be ready later
this year. Thank you everyone, and Mrs. Bachman,
is in Middle School Libraries
Evangeline Brown and the
Cadillac Motel has been selected by
the Pinellas County Library Media/Technology
Administration to be placed in all of the middle
school libraries in Pinellas County, Florida.
This is a great honor!
I was invited to attend a
recent meeting of the middle school media
specialists during which my novel was
distributed. I told them about Evangeline and how
I came to write the book. I was also given the
opportunity to autograph the copies they will be
placing in their school libraries. It was a very
pleasant morning and I appreciated their interest
in what I had to say! I hope the students back at
their middle schools enjoy Evangeline's story.
|Book Talk: Society of
School Librarians International
In November 2005 I made a trip
to Miami Beach to give a talk at the annual
conference of the Society of School Librarians
International (SSLI). The conference was at South
Beach, the art deco area I'd always seen on post
cards, with the beach and palm trees on one side
of the road, and the hotels and sidewalk cafes on
It was an informal conference
and the media specialists came from all over the
country. They were were a very friendly group and
I felt right at home as I told them a little
about the book and answered their questions. Many
of them ended up taking copies of the book back
to their schools where I hope their students will
also enjoy Evangeline's story.
|German Edition is
the fall of 2005, the German edition of Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel appeared
in European book stores as Wir zwei gegen den
Rest der Welt.
Judging from the Google translation (I don't know
German), the title was changed to something like
"The Two of Us Against the World." The
cover is very different, but that sure is
Evangeline and Farrell -- complete with his
basketball -- in the picture! Here is a link to more
information about this edition.
|Do you live in
Over the past year, several
first-edition, hardback copies of Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel were
given away as prizes by San Diego's top-rated
radio station: Soft Rock KyXy 96.5 FM (www.kyxy.com).
Listeners bid on the books in loyal-listener
auctions using their KyXy listener network
points. Bidding was fierce and we saw the
auctions end in overtime points wars again and
Great news! Five more books
will be up for auction again in the next several
months. And this time, they'll be autographed!
So if you're in the San Diego area, listen to
KyXy 96.5, join their POiNTS program, and you
could end up with your own autographed first
edition, FREE! (Note: you do not need to be in
San Diego to join or win, but you must pick up
the prize in-person at the station, located in
central San Diego county.)
Don't live in San Diego? Where
would you like to see Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel featured
in a radio station giveaway? Send us your
suggestions (with city, radio station call
letters, and web site URL if you know it) to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe your local
station will have copies for you soon!
|Summer Reading Lists
It was great to see Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel on a
number of summer reading lists for schools and
libraries in places like Bethesda,
Maryland and Westwood,
Massachusetts. I hope all of my readers
had a great summer!
In June 2005 I was invited to speak to
an adult class at the University of South
Petersburg campus. The students in the adolescent
literature course were mainly English teachers
and librarians. I talked about how I chose the
names for many of the characters in the book, and
how I came to write about Evangeline Brown and
her friend Farrell. It was a pleasure speaking to
such an interested group!
|Review on YA Books
Books Central is an excellent website
and resource that has reviews of young adult
books, interviews with authors, excerpts from the
books and other goodies. I was honored to have Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel
reviewed on the site. I was also interviewed by
Kimberly Pauley and that is posted, too. If you
want to find out what a book is about before you
read it (there are nearly 3000 reviews -- most of
them written by readers), the website is www.yabookscentral.com.
In April 2005 the library in Dunedin,
Florida, held its first reading festival called
"Dunedin Books -- A Party."
It was held in Dunedin's Pioneer Park in the
center of the historic district. The festival was
held outdoors and the weather couldn't have been
better -- sunny, breezy, and comfortable. There
were activities for adults and children, and
about 40 authors held book signings under big
I autograph a book for a young reader and his
Many libraries have groups of volunteers
who plan programs and raise funds for the
library. The Friends of the Tarpon Springs
Library (in Florida) invited three local authors
to speak in March 2005 at their Author
Luncheon Series. I was one of the three,
and since we knew each other and have entirely
different writing styles and genres (one writes
super-short short stories that end with a bang
and the other writes historical fiction), we were
able to plan our talks together. The luncheon was
held in the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum where
enlarged historic photographs of the town covered
the walls. Since I was familiar with modern
Tarpon Springs -- once the sponge diving capital
of the world -- the photographs gave me an
interesting perspective of the town in a
Speaking to the group after lunch.
In March 2005, I visited Terrace
Community School, a charter school in
Tampa, Florida and participated in their Literary
Symposium. This school's location is unusual
because it is currently meeting in part of
Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry!
Unfortunately, the students don't get to explore
the museum between classes -- their classrooms
are in a section with a separate entrance.
I had a great time talking to
three different sixth grade classes about writing
and publication as well as about Evangeline
Brown. The students were excellent listeners
and had lots of good questions. I really enjoyed
myself and they made me feel special by asking
for my autograph during their lunch break!
In January 2005, I was invited to be a panel
speaker at the SCBWI (Society of
Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Florida
Regional Conference in Miami. I had a
wonderful time meeting other authors, editors and
agents, and exchanging information. People
involved in writing and producing books for
children and young adults are especially nice!
Many of the authors also signed
books at the conference.
(I'm on the right.)
|German Language Edition
In January 2005, Cecile
Dressler Verlag purchased the exclusive German
language translation rights to Evangeline
Brown and the Cadillac Motel. Watch for
"Evangeline" to be available in German!
In December 2004, I visited Mrs. Arntz's
class at Blanton Elementary School
in Pinellas Park, Florida. Mrs. Arntz had read Evangeline
Brown to her class during the fall and her
students had lots of questions to ask about the
book and about writing in general. She has a very
smart, very nice class! It was fun meeting all of
her students. They certainly made being a writer
even more enjoyable.
|Book Discussion Group
This fall (that's me on the
right), I met with a group of piano students and
their teacher in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Everyone had already read Evangeline Brown
and the Cadillac Motel, so we talked about
the book and had a pizza party afterward.
We posed for a group picture.
I also autographed the books
I really enjoy meeting my readers!
|Sizzlin' Summer Reads
and the Cadillac Motel was one of two books
featured in the first Sizzlin' Summer Reads for
kids column in the St.
Petersburg Times in Florida.
In honor of National Missing Children's
Day, the author donated the day's proceeds to the
National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children on May 25, 2004.
|Cool New Book:
Evangeline Brown and
the Cadillac Motel is featured at the
top of the list of "Cool New
Books" for May, 2004 on KidsReads.com
The press release
sent out by Dutton Children's Books includes some
nice insight into why the book was chosen as
winner of the Ann Durell Fiction Contest.
Lurie, President and Publisher of Dutton
Childrens Books, remarks,
Evangeline won the heart of every
editor in our department. Her voice is wise,
funny, and refreshingly honest. Theres
an authenticity to the writing that we
dont see in many first-time
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