Previous month:
December 2007
Next month:
February 2008

Looking for Alaska

John Green, below, asks for our support in preventing Looking for Alaska from being taken out of the curriculum for 11th grade English in a public high school. He explains everything better than I can, but I'd like to add that people often view books for children and teenagers as billboards for behavior. They think, a book in which characters do X (let's say, drink, or have sexual activity) is like a poster saying "hey, this is a good idea!" Or, in some cases, "don't do that, it's a very bad idea and you could DIE."

But books are books. They are long. They are complicated. They are intended for discussion, contemplation, and disagreement. Most of them simultaneously embody different points of views because the characters in them are in conflict with one another, or with themselves.

No one writes books for teenagers because they don't care about teenagers. The people I know who write books for teens (and I know many) all care passionately about creating good literature that speaks to the hearts and minds of young adults. No one has a desire to force an agenda down anyone's throats, much less corrupt the minds of our youth. We just care about our audience and are trying to make good, honest books for them.

Suite Scarlett

Last night I finished Suite Scarlett by my own friend Maureen Johnson. You can read the first chapter here!

Suite Scarlett is about a family who runs a run-down but glamorous small hotel in NYC. They are eccentric and charming and broke. Scarlett, our heroine, is hired by strange and overwrought hotel guest Mrs. Amberson to act as general assistant -- which ends up entailing the theft of tuna fish, the committing of seriously unkind pranks, the redecoration of the hotel dining room, and the production of Shakespeare's Hamlet on unicycles.

Also, there's romance. And a sequel is in the works. There will be a whole series! This is MJ as you know her from her outrageous blog. A completely wild imagination and massive doses of hilarity. I loved it!

It comes out in May.


A reminder:
How to Be Bad comes out in May, but right now you can enter for a chance to win The Ultimate Road Trip Kit.

Three grand prize winners will win a kit filled with of all of the essentials for the perfect road trip.
Gucci sunglasses
iTunes gift certificate
digital camcorder
Mobil giftcard
Starbucks giftcard
plus a copy of How to Be Bad

Five runner ups will win a free copy of How to Be Bad, signed by me, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski. All you have to do is enter your email!

Sarah, Lauren and I will also send out highly amusing joint emails leading up to publication of How to Be Bad -- and let me tell you, we've already written the Valentine's day email and it is pretty darn amusing.
To be on the HTBB mailing list, sign up for "author tracker" (different thing from my normal mailing list).

ABA -- another on-the-road report

Disreputablefinalsm_copy So I'm here at the American Booksellers Association winter institute, and spent last night and this morning, together with my zombie-loving travel companion of last week, Daniel Waters (author of Generation Dead, in stores this May), schmoozing with booksellers!

Fun city.
We are in Louisville. First thing we did was go out to eat and Daniel and our charming editor companion ate a local specialty, the "hot brown." It was all about sliced turkey in mornay sauce with cheese melted on top and some bread in there somewhere, plus bacon!
I am a vegetarian. I ate lettuce.
It was not a local specialty and not as fun as the hot brown. But I enjoyed looking at other people's hot browns.
Stop thinking what you're thinking about hot browns and what other things that phrase could mean!
This is a YA literature blog and we keep it clean over here! :)

Last night there was a party and I signed a zillion Disreputable Histories and sat next to Augusten Burroughs who had a satisfyingly enormous beard. (BTW, did you know he has a blog?) Anyway, we didn't talk. I was kinda shy. I did talk to Garth Stein, though, who was super nice and had pretend dog biscuits to give away.

Dinner with amazing and delightful booksellers. I ate too much cheesecake because I didn't like my pasta and then felt sick.
Went back to hotel room and read Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (I have a galley! nana naanananana!) which is so awesome I could not get to sleep despite cheesecake excesses.

More bookseller chat and fun this morning. I am wearing a sweater with glitter in it and feel quite festive. We are eating lunch in a sports bar.
I might take a nap now.


Our goofy blog entry

Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski and I blog today at HarperTeen's Myspace page.

While you're there, catch blogs by Francesca Lia Block, Bennett Madison, Anna Godberson and other cool YA peeps.


P.S. I am touring with those ladies this May to promote How to Be Bad! Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, a bunch of other places in Florida, NYC and I forget where else. Tour schedule up when we know it.

P.P.S Don't forget to enter the Sweepstakes.

Spring Awakening

I saw Spring Awakening this past weekend!

(Warning: profanity in the video)

Sadly, we saw a cast of almost all understudies and some of the sex appeal was lacking. No Jonathan Groff or Lea Michele. But it was still made of awesome. The choreography was phenomenal. And it was such an emotional story. I also loved how the creators fearlessly mixed two time periods: it was a 19th-century story with contemporary music, and basically as long as they were singing, they spoke as contemporary teenagers would do -- and when it was just dialog, they spoke as if in the 19th century.

When people say Young Adult content is only interesting to people under 18, that's ridiculous. This show couldn't be more YA.
Also, publishers sometimes suggest YA books should avoid overt sex so as to retain a large market by being inoffensive. But Spring Awakening (winner of 8 Tony awards) has underage intercourse performed twice onstage. I admired its bravery.

(Of course, someone DIES as a result of the intercourse, so it's a cautionary tale, but the blame is straight-up on the parents, who refuse to discuss sexuality with their children, leaving them woefully ignorant and desperately curious.)

Anyway, that could be a whole essay and I am supposed to be writing something else. But go see it if you have the chance.