Virtual reading: Just Girls chapter 3

If you wanted to see me read from Just Girls, here it is — a virtual reading for folks who can’t make it to one of the launch parties or who want a trailer for said parties. (If you’re viewing this on my home page, click the title to go to a page with a bigger video player.) Here’s the link to the page with the preview of chapters one and two in case you want to read those first.


Here’s a page with links of places where you can buy a copy of Just Girls:
And here’s my facebook page:

Just Girls: Art Giveaway!

Because I believe readers will fall in love with many of the characters of Just Girls, I’m working with an illustrator to create a free art piece for anyone who buys a copy of the novel between now and Nov. 1, 2014.

In this post you can see some preview sketches from the early drafts (be patient with the page of sketches, it takes a few moments to load). The final piece will be a detailed, two-color, full-page illustration. I’ll also have at least one framed copy signed by me and by the illustrator as a prize for the games we’ll be playing at the Sept. 27 launch party at Addendum BookstoreREAD MORE

On writing and gaming

Or is that gaming and writing?

Many people know that I’m an avid gamer in addition to writing young adult novels. I get a fair number of questions about how I balance the two because as many writers have discovered it’s hard enough to balance writing and a day job and a social life and staying healthy (all of which are also parts of my life) — and then to try adding gaming to that mix.

So I’m going to answer that and specifically the question from Allison Moon who asked this week if I have, “… tips for how to write hella books while also getting absorbed into a fantastical gaming world you want to live in?” (Special thanks for asking that in the week I’m thinking I need to blog more so that I can subtly remind people that Just Girls is out soon and you might want a copy. You can also find out more about Allison and her latest project here.)

The tips below are what I’ve worked out for myself — your process may be different so please engage in wanton experimentation and don’t give up until you find what works for you. You’ll know when you’ve found what works for you because you’ll feel happy and be productive.READ MORE

Age & Time part 2: author edition

In a fun confluence of events, just after Kristin published my guest blog about inspired age math and how to not freak out about being over 40, my publisher asked me last week if I was under 35 so they could submit me for an award given to young authors.

I had to tell them I’m not under 35 (as you can see in the blog I wrote for Kristin, I’m 42). And then like every other adult in American culture, I freaked out for a little while thinking that I was too old and had waited too long to get published.

The inside of my head sounded like this: Why didn’t I get published younger? What kind of failure is it that I’m not eligible for a young authors award even though I only have two books out? What did I do wrong? Culminating in: Oh my God, I wish I’d been first published at 30, not 40!

Luckily I have a habit of at least trying to critically listen to my ego when it goes on a rant like that, so I delved more deeply into that statement.READ MORE

Gut feelings: gluten sensitivity is complicated

This morning Business Insider ran a short video: “Gluten Sensitivity Proven False,” which makes a few good points and some dubious ones. First off, a more accurate title for the video would be: “One Study Shows Gluten Not a Factor in IBS Symptoms,” but that’s got a lot less drama to it. (Here’s the video if you’re curious.)

Basically, according to the video only 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease but about 30% report wanting to eat less gluten. Is there such a thing as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” and how many of that 30% might have it? The bottom line in the video is there isn’t such a thing. The actual title of the video on the page is “The Science is in — Why Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Fake.” I get cranky when people cite “Science” when they really mean one study or a small group of studies and then use emotionally loaded words like “fake.”

My bottom line is this: self-care trumps all. If you feel better eating gluten-free or grain free or only foods that don’t begin with the letter “g,” then that’s what you should eat. Everyone is an individual. Just like there aren’t two one-size-fits-all genders, there aren’t one or two diets for all humanity. Digestion is extremely complicated (at least from the western medicine viewpoint). What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for someone else so if you want to take good care of the people in your life, listen to them and support them if they’re trying different dietary options to be healthier.

Now if you’re curious to see me deconstruct the study and talk about some interesting trends in health and eating, read on:READ MORE

Solving Gender Neutrality (at least at WisCon)

Being on the “Solving Gender Neutrality” panel at WisCon over Memorial Day weekend got me thinking about gender more deeply than usual the past few weeks and two things occurred to me:

1. I want to alter my language more because “dude” just isn’t gender neutral like I want it to be.

2. Non-binary femme should be a thing.

The first is pretty straightforward and I’m cheerfully accepting better synonyms for “dude,” which I generally use to mean: person I’m fond of in a co-player sense. Coming from a gaming context, I use it for both men and women, but then I realized that if you don’t know that and you randomly hear me use it, it sounds just a gendered as people who think there’s such a thing as using male pronouns as a universal. So far my favorite suggestion for a replacement has been, “Peep!” We’ll see if I can rock that.READ MORE

You wrote WHAT? Sex scenes in GLBTQ YA Literature

The headline above was the title of the panel I had the pleasure of moderating at the Loft Literary Center’s Children’s & YA writing conference last weekend (April 25-27). The other panel members were: Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Molly Beth Griffin, Dawn Klehr, Juliann Rich and Elizabeth Wheeler. Between the six of us, we read scenes about sex, sexual identity, and gender identity and covered a pretty broad spectrum of  GLBT (though we may have been a little short on the Q).

Below are the stats that I cited at the start of the panel, plus some bonus stats:

Teens Kissing

From the Teen Lit Lab studies — 250 teens surveyed n 2009 (read the whole Sex in Young Adult Literature paper here):

  • 13.4% of girls said that the general level of sexual content in teen novels underestimates their level of sexual activity
  • 32% of male respondents suggested that sex in YA Lit was most often tamer than what they personally experience
  • 46% say that, in general, YA books overestimate the level of sexual activity they engage in

When teens were asked to rank (in order of importance) the reasons they read YA fiction with explicit sexual content:

  • ‘‘To be entertained’’ was the number one reason across all age groups (14-18)
  • Exploring situations they’ve not yet encountered was most often listed as the second most important reason
  • 20-25% of all teens responded that they read YA literature with sexual content to ‘‘get frank information about topics they might feel uncomfortable asking a friend or adult about.’’
  • Teens were similarly unanimous in selecting the least important reason——‘‘to become sexually aroused’’