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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GCC Member Jeri Smith-Ready Is A “Smart Chick” With A Short Story

YA writers are smart chicks. We all knew that, but now a group have gotten together to create an anthology to build upon the “Smart Chicks Kick It” tour. GCC Member Jeri Smith-Ready has one of the more notable short stories in this paranormal anthology, titled ENTHRALLED: PARANORMAL DIVERSION, out this week through HarperCollins.

As always, here’s a little bit about the book to get you hooked:

ENTHRALLED: PARANORMAL DIVERSION is a collection of original paranormal YA short stories edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. It grew out of the 2010 Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, a multi-author, multicity, author-organized tour of the US and Canada. Now, these 16 authors hope to bring a little taste of the Smart Chicks experience to readers everywhere.

Jeri Smith-Ready, a member of the tour, contributed the short story, “BRIDGE.” “Bridge” is a story, told in free verse, of how two brothers, with the help of a stranger, forge the chasm between them to find a lasting peace.

In the story, exists the world of the SHADE novels, where everyone seventeen and under can see and hear ghosts, but no one else can. So when Logan Keeley dies and his eighteen-year-old brother Mickey blames himself, they can’t ease each other’s pain or reconcile their rage. Over the course of SHADE and SHIFT, Mickey sinks into a near-suicidal depression over Logan’s death.

Here’s what Jeri had to say:

Q: I often talk about how I didn’t always “know” I wanted to be a writer. Did you? Or did you have other plans when you were little?

Jeri: No, thank goodness! It was hard enough to wait five years from the time I started writing seriously until I was published. I can’t imagine waiting and wanting something so bad my entire life. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Q: What did you do for your Sweet 16 or Quinceañera?

Jeri: Oh, I…really shouldn’t say how I spent my sixteenth birthday. That’s one for the vaults.

Q: I wrote the AMOR series organically, no outlines. My new manuscripts, I’ve outlined extensively. How about you? Are you an outliner?

Jeri: Each book is different, but I usually have a rough outline/synopsis before I start. Then I never look at the outline while I write the first draft. It’s when I rewrite that I get super analytical, using spreadsheets and index cards and programs like Scrivener. But first drafts are usually organic, especially if it’s the first book in the series.

Q: Where were you when you found out that ENTHRALLED was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Jeri: I don’t remember where I was when I found out there was going to be an anthology of authors on the Smart Chicks Tour, but I remember I was in my office when I got the email from Melissa Marr asking me to take part in the tour. I think they could hear me scream clear across the Mason-Dixon line. After I (calmly and professionally) accepted, I emailed my agent, who wrote back a very happy sentence in all caps, a sentence that cannot be printed on a family-friendly blog.

Thank you, Jeri! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Monday, September 19, 2011

GCC Member Megan Kelley Hall's DEAR BULLY Letters

So, if you’ve found your way to this blog, by now you know that I have an essay in the amazing anthology put together by GCC Members Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. Corralling 70 authors to put together a book of this nature is no easy task, and Megan Kelley Hall tells us exactly what inspired her to edit DEAR BULLY out this month through Harper Teen.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:
You are not alone.

Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.

Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

Here’s what Megan had to say:

Q: What inspired you and Carrie to put together DEAR BULLY?

Megan: We formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when we both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. I reached out to Carrie expressing my frustration with this case and the fact that bullying seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, I was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, I had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as I possibly could.”

So when I heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, I felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of my book and into real life. I was also disheartened by the numerous times I’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, we felt that we owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying -- to make it "uncool."

I started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire "movement" to end bullying. This was the day that Carrie and I, along with other authors decided to use our platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard.

Q: How did you go about putting together an anthology with 70 authors? That’s a lot of essays…

Megan: Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board with this cause -- wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group grew from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and I were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.

Q: What are most of the essays about?

Megan: The stories come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional. All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it's not a rite of passage. It doesn't make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of.

Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure—at least, not by themselves.

Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past.

Q: How can readers get involved in the DEAR BULLY movement?

Megan: Join the Facebook page, visit the website, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter.

Thank you, Megan! DEAR BULLY has been getting a lot of press, you can read more about it in Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Glamour Magazine, Seventeen.com and more. Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dear Bully: Why Do You Pick On YA Authors?

So I’m about halfway through DEAR BULLY (the awesome anthology I contributed an essay to and that went on sale last week), and I commented to the DH about how many other authors have stories similar to my own. He says, “So you’re saying kids like to pick on future authors?” Huh.

I’m not saying that it’s only future authors who get picked on, but it is an interesting theory. Whether we were cheerleaders, tuba players, funny guys, or music aficionados in our younger years, we all were bullied. And we all had it within us to one day write a novel. I wonder if despite our varying upbringings, we all gave off a similar vibe.

For example, a good chuck of the essays (so far) note that the author was picked on for being “different.” Now, this means different things in different decades, but still it seems to be a common thread. I know I felt “different” attending high school in the ‘90s when everyone was into grudge and wearing flannel. Don’t get me wrong, I wore the Chuck Taylors and baggy jeans, but I knew it wasn’t me. I knew I felt differently about the fad and went with it anyway just to fit in.

But maybe it showed. Maybe classmates could sense I was “different.”

Another trend is authors noting that they performed well in school. Not that they were picked for their grades per say, but they did think it made them a target. I’m sure a lot of bullied kids can agree with that. I wonder if we surveyed the bullies, whether many of them would say they did well academically? (Somehow, I doubt it.)

It’s a shame we didn’t all know each other when we were younger, we could have all banded together. But I guess we did as adults. As one author, Sara Bennett Wealer, said, “the girl you make fun of? She’s the cool one at cocktail parties.”

Amen, to that.

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved