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

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’’