Tag Archives: aisha saeed

10 New & Debut Asian American YA Authors

In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, here are 10 new and debut Asian American YA authors for you to check out. Support them today so they can publish more books tomorrow!

Sona CharaipotraTiny Pretty Things co-written with Dhonielle Clayton (HarperTeen, May 2015)
Get to know her: Goodreads Voice: Interview with Sona Charaipotra

Kelly Loy GilbertConviction (Disney-Hyperion, May 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Kelly Loy Gilbert

I. W. GregorioNone of the Above (Balzer + Bray, April 2015)
Get to know her: One Asian Book is Quite Enough (Diversity in YA)

Fonda LeeZeroboxer (Flux, April 2015)
Get to know her: Get to Know Asian American Children’s Authors: Fonda Lee, Author of Zeroboxer (amithaknight.com)

Stacey LeeUnder a Painted Sky (Putnam, March 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Stacey Lee

Valynne MaetaniInk and Ashes (Tu Books, June 2015)
Get to know her: Valynne E. Maetani’s website

Caroline Tung RichmondThe Only Thing to Fear (Scholastic)
Get to know her: Me, My Daughter, and the Babysitter’s Club (Diversity in YA)

Aisha SaeedWritten in the Stars (Nancy Paulsen Books, March 2015)
Get to know her: On Asian-Americans and why we are #NotYourAsianSidekick (aishasaeed.com)

Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes (Razorbill, April 2015)
Get to know her: DiversifYA: Sabaa Tahir

Amy ZhangFalling into Place (Greenwillow, September 2014)
Get to know her: An Indies Introduce New Voices Q&A With Amy Zhang (Bookselling This Week)

New Releases – March 2015

Fifty Yards and Holding by David-Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Victor Alvarez is in serious trouble. Now seventeen and flunking out of high school, he’s been chosen as the leader of the violent street gang he’s been a member of since he was thirteen. Riley Brewer has just broken a state record as the star of their high school baseball team. When Riley and Victor meet by chance, a connection begins to grow. When friendship turns to love, both young men realize their reputations contradict who they really are. Once their secret relationship is discovered, Victor realizes their lives are at risk. Refusing to hide in order to survive, Riley vows that only death can keep him apart from Victor.

Eye Candy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Dafina)

Book Description: Dishing on celebrity love games made Maya Morgan a media queen. But choosing her prince means working her wildest, most personal scoop yet…

She’s gone from gossip reporter to half of the entertainment industry’s newest power couple. And hot singer J. Love’s mad string of hits definitely makes him a good look for Maya—and her career. But she’s feeling something more for laid-back, mellow “civilian” Alvin. A lot more. Now J. Love is using every dirty-spin trick in the glitterati book to humiliate Alvin—and sink Maya’s brand if he can’t hold onto her—and their celebrity-couple perks. With her empire on the line and her rep at stake, Maya will draw on every reliable source and every crazy scheme she’s ever played to save what she’s earned—and prove she can have love and fame.

Deviate by Tracy Clark (Entangled Teen)

“As a member of the Scintilla, 17-year-old Cora possesses the rare ability to see people’s auras, making her both an object of desire and a target for harm. … Cora, possessing both her own powers and a fierce determination to protect those she loves, is no shrinking violet. … Passion and power are the driving forces behind this series that continues to deliver.” — Kirkus

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman (Sky Pony Press)

Book Description: The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

Painless by S. A. Harazin (Albert Whitman Teen)

Book Description: A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis–or CIPA for short. One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can’t do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can’t tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David’s legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick (Viking Juvenile)

“Lauer and Melnick team up to present a poem apiece from 100 ”younger“ poets who’ve published in media ranging from Twitter to the New Yorker. This cross section of contemporary poetry is promoted for grades nine and up, making no concessions to youth. The language and themes of a number of these selections are as adult as they come, probing suicide, mental illness, drug abuse, rape, racism, police brutality, AIDS and other cataclysmic life events, along with tamer reminiscences of home and more common rites of passage like heartbreak, sexual and recreational drug experimentation, and identity formation. … Incisive and occasionally brash.” — Kirkus

The Infinite by Lori M. Lee (Skyscape)

Book Description: The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (Putnam Juvenile)

Book Description: Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

The Agency 4: Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick)

“Intrigue, romance and the rich details of Victorian life are the focus in the fourth installment of this mystery series featuring a complex female detective. As the book opens, heroine Mary Quinn is living a life she could not have imagined in her earlier years. She is independent and beginning a detective agency with her fiance, James Easton, who would like to marry soon. Her sense of gratitude causes her to take one more case for the Agency, where she learned her trade. … Readers of the series will find this addition deeply satisfying as both a mystery and a historical romance.” — Kirkus

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan (Dutton)

“Tiny Cooper, the memorable best friend from Levithan and John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, gets his own star turn in this companion volume, which contains the script and lyrics of the autobiographical musical he wrote and staged in the original novel. … Though billed as a “musical novel,” there is no sheet music yet written for Tiny’s magnum opus. Levithan is hoping for a crowd-sourced soundtrack, encouraging amateur and professional composers to put music to his words. Broadway, are you listening?” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Crimson Gate by Whitney Miller (Flux)

Book Description: Harlow Wintergreen has been named the new Matriarch of VisionCrest, the powerful religious organization previously led by her father. There’s just one problem. The real Harlow is trapped inside a Cambodian temple, and her double, the evil Isiris, is out in the world masquerading as her.

With VisionCrest at her command, Isiris moves all the pieces into position for her genocidal endgame. To stop her twin from unleashing a super-virus designed to eradicate civilization, Harlow must escape the temple and reunite with the Resistance. But in trying to save the people she loves, Harlow gets a taste of the power Isiris wields … and her battle against the horror takes on a new and dangerous dimension.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse)

“High school junior Etta juggles many identities, none of which seem to fit quite right. She’s bisexual, but shunned by her group of friends, the self-named Disco Dykes, who can’t forgive her for dating a boy. She has an eating disorder, but never weighs little enough to qualify as officially anorexic. She’s a dancer, but just tap these days, not ballet, because as a short, curvy, African American teen, she doesn’t seem to have the right look for ballet. … Moskowitz masterfully negotiates all of the issues, never letting them overwhelm the story, and shows the intersectionality of the many aspects of Etta’s identity.” — School Library Journal

King by Ellen Oh (Harperteen)

“In this final installment of the series, Kira continues her quest to collect the lost treasures, unite the seven kingdoms, fulfill the ancient prophecy, and, in so doing, defeat the evil forces invading their lands. … Overall, this is a fulfilling end to an action-packed trilogy with characters that readers will be sad to let go.” — School Library Journal

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen Books)

Book Description: Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif … if he can find her before it’s too late.

What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott (Point)

“City girl Callie Valasquez agrees to go camping only to impress her new, popular girlfriends, Lissa and Penelope. After moving from Chicago to upstate New York, she’s hoping to foster new friendships like the ones she left behind. Inviting her new boyfriend, Jeremy, doesn’t hurt either. As the group surrounds a glowing fire, Lissa relates the tale of the Skinner, a murderer who committed atrocities in the very woods they sit in and was never found. Of course, it isn’t long before things begin to go awry. … Scott weaves palpable tension and masterfully ramps it up toward a truly thrilling conclusion. Cinematically paced, it’s tough to put it down. Readers will be kept up late, shocked to discover the depth of the darkness that lies in the woods.” — Kirkus

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (Dutton Juvenile)

“Smith (Grasshopper Jungle) turns in another audacious performance, this time a wild tale of summer camps, adoptive families, mad bombers, masturbation slang, illegal biological research, and an icebound 19th-century ship. Ariel, a 14-year-old orphan caught up in a civil war in an unnamed foreign nation, has been brought to the U.S. by an executive from the mysterious Merrie-Seymour Research Group. … Fans of Smith’s raunchy, profane, and provocative work will find this funny but morally serious tale deeply appealing.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp (Little, Brown)

“Luisa ‘Lulu’ Mendez dreams of leaving her dead-end small town behind. She cannot wait to immerse herself in the University of San Diego’s biochemistry program in the fall. So she is devastated when her dad admits that he has lost her college funds in a bad investment. Lulu is determined to make her college dreams a reality, and when a confiscated distillery turns up at the junkyard where she and her best friend work, she sees it as a bit of serendipitous luck. Although Lulu is not a party girl, she is aware that the moonshine business, illegal or not, is still thriving in the rural mountains of Virginia. … Lulu narrates the story in second-person, as a confessional of sorts to Mason, and readers will race to turn the pages as it becomes apparent that Lulu’s gamble may result in the destruction of the people she cares about the most. A wholly original and most satisfying debut.” — School Library Journal

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Delacorte)

“What would it feel like to wake up normal? It’s a question most people would never have cause to ask—and the one 14-year-old Adam Spencer Ross longs to have answered. … Adam’s first-person account of his struggle to cope with the debilitating symptoms of OCD while navigating the complexities of everyday teen life is achingly authentic. Much like Adam, readers will have to remind themselves to breathe as he performs his ever worsening OCD rituals. Yet Toten does a masterful job bringing Adam to life without ever allowing him to become a one-dimensional poster boy for a teen suffering from mental illness.” — Kirkus, starred review

Game Seven by Paul Volponi (Viking Juvenile)

“Sixteen-year-old Julio Ramirez Jr. dreams of being a junior Nacional and playing for Cuba against the best young players around the world. Baseball is ‘practically a religion’ in Cuba, and Julio’s father was like a Cuban god, an all-star pitcher for the Cuban National Team. Now, having defected, he’s a star for the Miami Marlins. But instead of pride, Julio feels resentment toward his father for abandoning his family to a life of poverty while he, the great El Fuego, lives the high life in Miami with his multimillion-dollar contract. … An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty.” — Kirkus

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion)

“In her latest World War II-era novel, Wein returns to themes of aviation and the enduring bonds of platonic love and friendship. Best friends Rhoda, a white Quaker, and African American Delia were ”barnstorming“ pilots, a team who performed in air shows across the United States as White Raven and Black Dove, their children, Emilia and Teo, in tow. When Delia is killed in a plane crash, Rhoda commits to fulfilling Delia’s dream for Teo—to live in a land where he wouldn’t be judged by the color of his skin—and moves them all to Ethiopia, where Teo’s father was born. … Wein continues to present multidimensional characters within her effortless prose.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Yo Miss: A Graphic Look At High Schoool by Lisa Wilde (Microcosm Publishing)

Book Description: Yo, Miss – A Graphic Look at High School takes the reader inside Wildcat Academy, a second chance high school in New York City where all the students are considered at-risk. Through strong and revealing black and white images, the book tells the story of eight students who are trying to get that ticket to the middle class – a high school diploma. Whether they succeed or not has as much to do with what happens outside the classroom as in, and the value of perseverance is matched by the power of a second chance. It is a story that shows these teens in all their beauty, intelligence, suffering, humor, and humanity (and also when they are really pains in the behind.) A view from the trenches of public education, Yo, Miss challenges preconceptions about who these kids are, and what is needed to help them graduate.

Playing a Part by Daria Wilke (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Book Description: The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.

In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting “gay propaganda,” threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released PLAYING A PART, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers.

In PLAYING A PART, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha’s class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he’s not “masculine” enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving: He’s leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia.

How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee (Arthur A. Levine Books)

“The downward spiral of popular high-school senior Higgs Boson Bing, named after the elusive “God particle,” begins when a classmate asks him a hypothetical question about his willingness to donate a kidney to his girlfriend, Roo. Higgs’s hesitant answer does not bode well for his relationship with Roo, resulting in their breakup and a full-blown hate campaign against him. … Alternately heart-wrenching and hilarious (“The Asian Jewish English American thing was a real stumper when it came to filling out my college applications,” Higgs reflects), Yee’s (Absolutely Maybe) portrait of a flawed superstar introduces a cast of vibrant, memorable characters and an eloquent message about following one’s desires.” — Publishers Weekly

Out of the Dragon’s Mouth by Joyce Burns Zeiss (Flux)

Book Description: After the fall of South Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Mai, a young Vietnamese girl of Chinese descent, is torn from a life of privilege and forced to flee across the South China Sea in the hold of a fishing trawler. Mai finds tenuous safety in a refugee camp on an island off the coast of Malaysia, where a greedy relative called Small Auntie offers her a place to stay—but her hospitality isn’t free. With her father’s words “You must survive” echoing in her ears, Mai endures the hardships of the camp, which are tempered only by her dreams of being sponsored by her uncle for entry into America.

But when an accident forces Mai to leave the safety of Small Auntie’s family, she meets Kien, a half-American boy who might be the only person who can keep her alive until she’s sent to the United States.

Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Out of the Dragon’s Mouth is a poignant look into life ripped apart by the ravages of war.

5 Things I Learned While Writing “Written in the Stars”

By Aisha Saeed

saeed-writteninthestars1. You will get criticism. It’s part of putting your work out there in the world.

When I first began writing my novel, a family member asked me what my book was about. When I told her the novel was about a Pakistani American girl who is forced into a marriage against her will, her immediate response was: great, because that’s just what we need, another story to make Pakistanis look bad. That strong reaction really threw me for a loop and worry settled like a seed in my heart. I never considered not writing this novel but I did get worried about how people would react to it. The truth is, I had friends who were pressured into marriages against their will and while yes aspects of this book are not flattering to a culture I belong to and love, I did feel it was an important story to share. The reaction I got about the novel’s premise made me realize I would get pushback and negative responses for writing about a problematic part of my culture. Ultimately, I continued writing it and I stand by what I wrote because while I do address a problem, as a Pakistani American who loves her culture, I wrote this story from a place of love. The novel shows the complexity of Pakistan which includes the warmth of its people, the beauty of its surroundings, and the nuance that abounds. It’s a fine balance and its never fun to get criticism but it’s part and parcel of creating art- it’s subjective and everyone is entitled to how they feel. You have to do the work you believe in anyways.

2. Forced marriages are a cultural problem, not a religious problem. 

As a Muslim I have always known forced marriages are condemned in Islam just as they are in every religion on earth. I did not however know that people thought forced marriages were approved of in Islam until I got asked this question over and over again. The truth is, forced marriages are not a problem limited to Muslim countries, forced marriages happen in many different countries and also take place among different faiths as well. Unchained At Last, a fantastic US based organization successfully challenges this misconception and highlights people here in the United States who were coerced and forced into unwanted marriages. Realizing the link many people would make between the problem highlighted in my book and my religious faith, I felt it was important to include an author’s note to address this misconception. I also made sure it was clear to readers that Naila actually found comfort in her faith and did not blame her religion for the predicament she was in.

3. Writing a book takes a lot of time. Make peace with that. 

I’ve read about how agents brace themselves for the post NaNoWriMo submission surge and tell writers to wait and make sure the book they submit is the best book it can possibly be. They are right. Revising is a labor intensive and exhaustive thing to do. I have lost track of how many revisions I’ve done. For example, Written in the Stars began as a third person past-tense novel. After some time with it though I realized the story would have a deeper sense of immediacy and urgency if it was narrated in the present tense and in the first person by the protagonist, Naila. This required a complete line-by-line rewrite but it was completely worth it because the effect of writing it this way helped the story come to life for me in a way the other format wasn’t doing. It’s frustrating to keep changing things and revising but for me that’s part of the writing journey. I also believe being this critical helps the novel become better and it also helps you become a better writer ultimately.

4. When it comes to writing, particularly writing about marginalized groups, take the time to research and get it right. 

Yes it’s fiction but if you are writing a novel you have a responsibility to do your best to write a respectful and honest representation of whatever it is you take on. That responsibility is huge because what readers are reading may be their one and only introduction to the culture you are writing about. I am Pakistani American and much of my novel takes place in Pakistan but because I haven’t been to Pakistan in some time, it was important for me to make sure the details were accurate. To this end I had many beta readers including my parents. Most of Naila’s time in Pakistan is spent in her parent’s village. That setting is entirely fictional but loosely based on my parent’s ancestral village. For this reason I had them read each line and give me feedback to make sure that the representation was as accurate as possible. Friends also gave me feedback in areas where more nuance could be added and where more complexity could take certain characters from being black and white to more complex. In a world that is still battling racism and bigotry on a daily basis it is so important to not stereotype and resort to clichés and it is also important to portray people, particularly marginalized people, respectfully even if you’re addressing difficult topics. Take the time, even if it delays the manuscript going out on submission, even if it takes going through a lot of people to double and triple check, but get it right.

5. I love writing and I hate writing. 

In the prologue of Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes Please, she says writing is like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver. I laughed out loud at her description because that is what writing feels like to me. The truth is, writing is something that feels like a calling and it’s something I love to do, but in the same breath I also find writing one of the most challenging and difficult things I take on. I hate the self-doubt and the frustration of going through the first draft [which is my least favorite draft] and wondering if all the work will even amount to anything or if this will remain the rubbish it seems to be. I’ve learned through reading many memoirs of many lovely writers whom I admire that this is normal. For most writers, writing is hard work and it doesn’t get easier the more you do it. I’ve made my peace with it because while I don’t love the act of writing out the first draft, I do love the feeling of finishing writing a novel. I think it’s the act of finishing writing a story I’m proud of that pushes me through the painstaking process of creating.


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Aisha Saeed is a YA author, attorney, and educator and one of the founding members of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Her upcoming debut Written in the Stars will be released in 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. Visit her online at www.aishasaeed.com or follow her on twitter and tumblr: @aishacs.

Purchase a copy of Written in the Stars here.

Aisha Saeed Gives Us the Inside Track on the We Need Diverse Books IndieGogo Campaign

By Cindy Pon

Last Thursday, We Need Diverse Books™ kicked off their IndieGogo campaign to raise $100,000 to fund their advocacy efforts. Aisha Saeed, WNDB’s Vice President of Strategy, dropped by DiYA to fill us in on the campaign and WNDB’s future goals.

Full disclosure: DiYA is not officially affiliated with WNDB, but I (Cindy) am a member of the WNDB Advisory Board.

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We Need Diverse Books Panel at BookCon in May 2014. Front row from left: Lamar Giles, Mike Jung, Matt de la Peña, Grace Lin, and Jacqueline Woodson. Back row from from left: Ellen Oh, Marieke Nijkamp, Aisha Saeed, and I. W. Gregorio.

Cindy Pon: Hi Aisha, thanks for stopping by DiYA! Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with the We Need Diverse Books™ team?

Aisha Saeed: Hi Cindy, thanks for having me here! I am an author, mama, lawyer, teacher, and maker and drinker of chai (lots and lots of chai). My debut novel Written in the Stars, follows seventeen-year old Naila who didn’t realize just how far-reaching the consequences could be when she disobeyed her parents one rule: not to fall in love.

L: Written in the Stars; R: Aisha Saeed
L: Written in the Stars; R: Aisha Saeed

I am also the Vice President of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books™. It’s hard to believe we started only earlier this year, but being part of WNDB is one of the things I’m most proud to be a part of.

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The Oakland Public Library shows its support!

Cindy: This fundraising campaign looks amazing! Could you highlight some of the WNDB initiatives contributors will help fund through their donations?

Aisha: We are so grateful to each and every backer of our project. Every single dollar donated is not only tax-deductible, all funds go towards launching our initiatives. While you can read more about them here, some of our initiatives include Diversity in the Classroom aimed at bringing diverse authors and diverse books to classrooms. We also seek to support diverse authors and writers with the Walter Dean Myers Awards and Grants program to honor authors with commendable diverse books and to help support diverse writers and illustrators seeking publication. We are also putting together educational kits for classrooms, bookstores, and libraries, and promoting the conversation on diversity at conferences. And last but certainly not least, we are launching our first ever kidlit diversity festival in 2016.

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Mabith shares during the WNDB twitter campaign: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because disabiilty is not life-ending, an aberration, or a side story. In the US, nearly one in every five people have a disability.

Cindy: Can you tell us about some of the incentives available for those who donate? And what we can look forward to for the rest of the campaign?

Aisha: We are very proud of our perks, and so thankful to all the amazing authors, artists, and community members who have donated so many amazing things!  In addition to tote bags, T-shirts, swag packs, posters, and holiday notecards, we also have agent-donated perks tailored to writers, signed prints by illustrator Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame), and dinner dates with celebrated authors Matt de la Peña  and Jacqueline Woodson. Due to the generosity of so many people we still have many other prizes coming down the pipeline including original art created for the WNDB fundraiser by Grace Lin! (And FYI, we also have a fabulous piece by you, Cindy Pon!)

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“Here Comes the Dragon” signed print from Grace Lin’s book Bringing in the New Year.

 

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“Nestled Chick” an original Chinese brush painting by Cindy Pon.

We are so very grateful to everyone who has been supporting us, but we still need your help to reach our goal. Please check out our campaign page and our amazing video featuring authors Matt de la Peña, Jacqueline Woodson, Cindy Pon, Marie Lu, John Green, and Tim Federle, and consider helping to take us one step closer to fulfilling our dream to make the world of literature infinitely more diverse!

 


Aisha Saeed is a YA novelist, her book Written in the Stars, will be released in March 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. She is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary. You can follow her on twitter here or tumblr here.