Book Trailer

It’s here! It’s here! Check out my book trailer for THE NIGHT WE SAID YES!

More information, and the exclusive reveal, can be found on the B&N Teen blog.

As mentioned in the post, it was so much fun filming. My actors were great, the location was fantastic, and I’m so happy with the final product. (Big shout out, again, to my friend Joe who filmed/edited/scored the entire thing. And, yes, I realize it was filmed during the day, but have you tried filming at night? It’s not easy. Still, I think it gets the feel of the book across pretty wonderfully. I’m so happy!

Here are some photos from the shoot of my adorable and wonderful cast.

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And here’s me looking extremely short next to them. Hi!

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YA Love and Breakups

When I was in high school, two things were important to me: friendships and relationships. (Okay, yes, family was important to me as well, but I didn’t daydream about what I was going to eat with my parents when I got home; I daydreamed about what plans my best friend and I had for the weekend, or if Crush saw me in the hallway). Since this is what I know, it’s what I write about. I write about the girl who pines for the guy from afar. I write about the friendship that unexpectedly (but always expectantly to outside observers) blossoms into something more. I write about how a relationship can change a person. I write how relationships (both romantic and not) are essential. I was the girl who got red faced when a guy talked to me, the one who cried when he broke up with me. I was the one who dreamed about what would happen if he’d talk to me.

That was me, and because it’s what I know, what feels real, that’s what I write.

There’s been a lot of hatred towards YA romance lately, and it makes me kind of sad. There are sighs when a love interest is introduced, cringes when a female character cries over a boy. It seems weak and trite to some readers, but to me it feels real.

Because let’s be honest, breakups suck. Unrequited love sucks. Battles with best friends suck and I don’t think it makes a character seem weak or whiny to feel that. I don’t think it’s realistic to have a main character not change after a breakup, or be unfeeling. I don’t think it’s weird for a teenager to be sad. And I would never call any of these problems trivial.

This complaint has kind of had a negative affect on my writing lately, making me feel a bit self-conscious of what I thought was normal. It’s believed that YA books shouldn’t revolve around a relationship. That when hurt a female should be strong and not weep, not be affected by love. And that to portray a character fighting for another is wrong because that’s not a good example to set.

The thing is, when writing, I think of my audience all the time. I think of the teens that volunteer at the library, the ones that come to my programs. I think about what I want them to read, and how I want my characters to be just like them. Because they’re human. And you know what? They have relationship problems, too.

I don’t think a character should CHANGE EVERYTHING AND LOSE EVERYTHING for the person s/he likes, I don’t think they should become someone they’re not, and I don’t think they should DEVOTE themselves to another. And I DON’T think every book should have a relationship. That’s not important to some stories, and I like those books quite a bit, too. But I do think characters should be able to love. And should be affected by love. And get giddy when that guy/girl looks at them in the hallway, and cry when that person decides to date someone else. I think they should be able to have a million flaws because that’s a real teen. They’re full of complexities that are so deep they don’t even know they’re there.

Because I know that when I was a teen, when I started dating Crush, it was the best moment of the year. And when we broke up months later, it was the worst. And I know I felt everything in between, and I want my characters to feel that, too. And not be ashamed to be sad or in love. It doesn’t mean they’re not strong. It means they’re fighting a battle that may not bring down governments or change a dystopian society around, but is still important.

I would never tell a teen they’re wrong or weak for loving.

If You Like Twilight…

Have you seen the AMAZING chart the Lawrence Public Library made, recommending titles similar to The Hunger Games? I printed a few copies out and put them on our YA display at my library, and they were taken within minutes. It was amazing. So for the past week, I’ve been printing more out, as well as making my own for my library. I have four in the works, but here’s the first…

(As a note, the Bella/Buffy part isn’t quite accurate. There’s romance in the Buffy books, and hardcore ladies in the Bella books. I just wanted to have fun with titles.)

You can download the PDF here: IfYouLikeTwilightFinal2

Please feel free to use it as you’d like. I’m happy for it to be passed around.

Thanks to the Lawrence Public Library for making the original one. You guys are fantastic.

Teens of Today

At the library, the majority of our volunteers are teens. They’re all really sweet and really helpful and pretty much only know me as that stereotypical librarian (complete with glasses and cardigan. I am a walking stereotype). So it’s fun when they ask me something and my answer surprises them. I was a drummer? I was in the circus? Yeah, like that.

So today I was talking to one of our volunteers, and mentioned being obsessed with pop punk when I was around his age. To my delight, the genre is still around and while I don’t know any of the current popular artists, I’m happy to know people still like it. So he jotted down some bands for me to check out, and I told him I’ll come back with recommendations of my own.

And that – just that – is why I write young adult novels. Because while times do change (I didn’t have a cell phone in high school; Facebook wasn’t invented; Leonardo DiCaprio was the dreamiest – okay he still is), basic things don’t. In high school there will always be the jocks, the cheerleaders, the geeks, the drama kids (me!), the artists, the guys in bands.

But also? There will always be heartbreak so bad you don’t know if you can go on, best friends who you’ll give your life for, crushes that are dreamt about in class over and over again, embarrassments that you think will haunt you forever, pressure that’s beyond overwhelming, songs that feel like they were written just for you, and moments you know you’ll remember forever.

Yeah, I’m a decade older than those teens, but I know what they’re going through because I went through it, too. And knowing that – knowing how things really don’t change – is really kind of great, isn’t it?

Golden Age

I’ve been heavily editing and working on Book 2 lately, thus my lack of posts. BUT! I have missed you all dearly, so I’m stopping in to say hello (hello!) and offer you this quote:

“We’re in a kind of golden age of books for teenagers — in fact, the best ones are more satisfying reads than most of the best books published for adults,”  (via NY Times.)

While I don’t think we should be comparing, I DO think more people should see YA lit as fiction in general. Not just books for children, and not “lesser” fiction. There’s some good stuff out there. Why not check it out regardless of its location in a bookstore/library?

Fun fact: At the library we have a giant display of new YA lit. There isn’t a sign on it or anything, just a great display of prominent authors. Many adult patrons pick up – and love – the books not even realizing they’re perusing a young adult section.