Monday, February 20, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Love Breaking Rules.



I am so stoked to be part of this project:



Luke Reynolds, ed.'s BREAK THESE RULES, an anthology of first-person accounts from leading authors for teens (including Sara Zarr, Kathryn Erskine, A.S. King and Gary Schmidt, and many others), from which all royalties will be donated to the Children's Defense Fund, to Lisa Reardon at Chicago Review Press, by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (World).

The Children's Defense Fund is an amazing organization that, in an ideal world, shouldn't have to exist. While we're all arguing this election year, look at candidates' views on children and what they do for them. Look closely at how candidates feel about the poor. While some people are yelling, "Get a job!" they seem to overlook that children can't get jobs. Poor children are a reality. A big reality in this country. In PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, the pagoda mentioned that 47% of children in that town lived under the poverty line. That fictional town was fashioned after my own town, Reading, Pennsylvania, which now tops the nation's poverty list.

This could be you. No. Seriously. It could be. You could lose your job. It happens every day. Your parents could lose their house. That happens every day, too. You might lose your health insurance. You might one day be the person who needs help. Needing help isn't fun. It's embarrassing, depressing and feels hopeless. For children in these situations, how do you think it makes them feel? What do you think it does for their sense of hope? How do you think it feels to be a hungry child who hears, "Get a job!" more than "Hey, let me help you"?

During an awesome Skype session with a Westborough, MA classroom earlier this week, one student came back to the computer and said he liked that PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ talked about how the world is messed up. He said (I'm paraphrasing) "The world is so messed up and nobody seems to be doing anything about it." We discussed how talking about how the world is messed up and actually tackling the issues and getting involved in our communities and our messed up world was the only way to change it.

I think I said something like, "The only way to help make the world less messed up is to do. Talking about it is the first step."

Yelling "Get a job!" isn't really going to help anyone. And it's all fine and good that people don't want to help other people, I guess. It's a free country. Be a selfish dinkus all you want. What isn't fine and good is how quickly their mind will change the minute they lose their job, their house, their health insurance or their bloated feeling of being right about everything. Some people are immune to these risks. Most of us are not.

Compassion is dying on a political battlefield.
The biggest casualties are children.

The piece I wrote for BREAK THESE RULES is about speaking up. The more of us who speak up, the more chance we have to make the world less messed up. Sure, in adult land, this makes me a dreamer--some kind of pseudo teenager with crazy ideals. I say--there's nothing wrong with being any of these things. Adults may scoff. They may tell me to get a job. They may think I'm being immature. But I see it a different way.

If you're an adult and you don't care about how the world is messed up? You're the lazy, entitled brats who are the problem. If you already know how messed up the world is and think that there is nothing that can be done? Then you're just making excuses.

I say: Get a real job. Volunteer.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My valentine goes to librarians.

Breakfast.
I'm loving winter this year. Very little snow. Lots of time to write.
Today I'll finish some small tweaks on REALITY BOY and send it to my editor, but only after I get my 1000 new words written and Skype with the awesome people of Westborough, MA.

If I haven't mentioned it before, PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is part of an amazing project up in Westborough called Westborough Reads Together. The community is reading the book--adults and teens are reading together and having book discussions and other cool events related to the book--and I will be visiting in April to close out this amazing project.

When I see programs like this, run by dedicated and enthusiastic librarians, I get a huge feeling in my chest. Not because they're using my book, but because they have found a way to get their community to read together. That's pretty amazing, isn't it?

Photo thanks to Maureen!
So, for Valentine's Day, I want to send a blog valentine to the librarians in Westborough, MA. Anita and Maureen and everyone else who spent time organizing this event, the donors who have given, and the volunteers who have helped run the programs. Today's Skype will involve the superintendent of the school district, and that's just so important. Sometimes when I travel and meet librarians who invite me to their schools, the administration isn't part of the equation. Sometimes I'm told that administration isn't supportive because author visits "aren't part of the curriculum." In one school I visited, VERA DIETZ isn't allowed in the library because the principal went to one online site and read a twisted, inaccurate review and believed it, which was as far as he was willing to travel, even though the librarian had read the actual book and knew it was a book the students would love and discuss. So, this idea that a community that reads together will ultimately be stronger makes me nod aggressively. Yes. Yes. Yes.

A community that reads together will be stronger.

I know a lot of library systems around the country are struggling through budget cuts and scrambling to keep their doors open. As a reader, a library trustee, and an author, Westborough Reads Together has given me a real picture of what libraries can do to make stronger communities. Now, if we can remind people that reading is important...and that reading with kids, no matter what age, is the foundation of a community, we'll be on a winner.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm just having fun now.

Seriously.
This is like the Nigerian lottery I keep winning.


2 hours ago
Donald Carter
  • Hello, Let me start by introducing myself, I am Lt. Colonel Donald Carter from the United State army, Am from Boise, Idaho. I had a master degree in war and strategic studies from Oklahoma state university before joining the US Army. I am 56 years old, a widower and lost my wife in the September 11 attack on the world trade center in 2001. I have been in the US Army for 20 years and am an expert in peace keeping strategy.
    Over the years, i have traveled far and wide across the world in peace keeping missions and at various times, i was inAfghanistan, Israel and some other war zones.Presently,am leading a team of United Nations troupe on a peace keeping operation in Darfur and will be retiring from active military service as soon as am back from Dafur.I never believed that internet is a good place to meet people not until my friend that introduced me into it found his soulmate and they are now happily married.
    I found your profile and picture very interesting on facebook while searching for my old school friend
    I believe there is someone out here that will show me love and affection and i hope meeting you will bring a lot of joy and happiness into my life.I found your profile and picture very interesting on facebook while searching for my old school friend and when i found you, i could not let my eyes off the beauty in your eyes. I am loving,caring, romantic, God fearing and will love to know you more and probably chart better. You can send your yahoo or msn email address so that we can share pictures and for a more effective communication, your quick response will be highly appreciated.
    Regards,
    Lt. Colonel Donald Carter

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Intermission

So, REALITY BOY lives. Stands on its own feet. Which is good because the next book has already started showing up at my brain door every morning knocking and knocking.

This if for Gerald, the main character in REALITY BOY, who you'll meet in 2013.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So...Priceless

Dudes. After that last post, I had to share.


Yesterday
Wilson Cris
  • wow........i am certainly speechless....what manner of beauty bestowed on one person. You must have been created on God's resting day.

    The name is raymond. i was looking perusing through a list of profiles when i found yours. i looked at it carefully and found out that we have lots in common, especially in the area of smiling like no one is watching, as ur picture suggested that. That is a very sexy picture u have there. it reminds me of the likes of the duchess of castle bridge, lady Jane who was made queen of England cos of her charming beauty, most catching enough she was a maid to the former queen Anna Boleyn when King Henry sited her in court (British History...tell u more later)lol. Hope u don't mind my humorous comparatives as i couldn't think of a better comparative than this.hehe. They were all damn beautiful.

    what do u say dear??? we could get to know each other more and better...would u like tht?.....chuckling.


    Love Always
    RAYMOND

Just so great, isn't it? AND an offer of a British history lesson later. Sure, Chuckling Raymond, I'll be there in a minute. In my Cromwell suit.

PS-I do what I can to block out names. I'm sure these people do what they can to not prey on people on the internet. Seems we're all doing our best.

Friday, February 3, 2012

So...Creepy

Look.

None of us are dumb. We know what this Internet offers. Endless information. An amazing connection to people all around the world.

Including creeps.

Here are some random messages I've received on Facebook in the last while. I should mention that my facebook profile has all privacy settings cranked up. These people are not my 'friends' on Facebook. These guys found me by...trawling.

This first guy is actually a "mutual friend" to two of my facebook friends.


January 30
David Scott
  • Hello
    How are you?your profil picture look good,i will like to know you better,what is your yahoo i m so i can add u into mine and chat better with you,mine is david.scott112 at yahoo dot cum

    January 28
    Adam Clark
    • hi friend you are beautiful,i like to know you,can we chat.


      December 21, 2011
      John Robert
      • Hi how are u doing today? your profile has made an impression on me I hope we can speak dear.....

      Kelly Whay
      January 11
      Kelly Whay
      • I will love to know you more better. You look really familiar and not sure where is that. Please write me back and lets see how things will go . Please be free to write me.
        Kelly

        December 25, 2011
        Carye Martin
        • Hi,hw u doing,martin by name,works as timber contrator,i love you profile,maybe we can have some thing in common.

          Barry White
          December 1, 2011
          Barry White
          • Hi,i saw your profile and like,well i will like to know you better,i have some important things to discuss with you,i don't know if you have interest? waiting to hear from you


GROOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSS, right? Totally and utterly gross. And I'm not just talking about their grammar and punctuation, either. (Or one of their profile info statements: "I HAVE LOTS OF RESPECT FOR WOMEN AND I WILL NEVER PICK UP A FIGHT OR START TROUBLE FIRST. I WILL HOWEVER DEFEND MYSELF WITH REASONABLE FORCE IF ATTACKED. I HAVE RESPECT FOR THE LAW")

This kind of stuff never bothered me too much until I met a girl during a school visit--a 16 year old--who actually goes and meets guys like this in person. Yeah. Her friend does it too. She couldn't tell me why, really. She said it's fun. Just like that. "It's fun."

Soon after that school visit, I met the awesome Sarah Darer Littman, who wrote WANT TO GO PRIVATE? 

I bought the book and I read it.

If you don't think creepers like those guys up there can do harm, or are trying to, then you need to read this book. It was compelling, horrifying, sad, creepy and, after I met the 16-year-old girl I mentioned above, I realized it's downright realistic. You don't have to be dumb to talk to strangers online. You don't have to be desperate or weird or anything. Sometimes it happens--and when it does, a lot of people blame the victim for being "stupid" rather than blame the creepers for preying on women and girls on the Internet.

If you're someone who doesn't report these creepers, then please start. They may not harm you, but they exist to find someone who will answer. In school there are Internet safety classes that teach kids about this stuff. And in WANT TO GO PRIVATE, the character also had those classes. She knew answering her creeper was against everything her teachers had taught her. But she did it anyway. She needed an ear. She needed someone who was on her side. Who understood her. Who thought she was beautiful.

Which brings me to this.

Getting a Facebook page is like a rite of passage now. I wasn't allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 17. I remember seeing all those other kids with earrings and feeling so bummed that I had to wait. Now, my kid is asking me, "When can I get a Facebook page?"

The legal age for being on Facebook is 13.

I will be one of those awful parents who will make my kids wait. During our waiting time, I will talk as much as I can to them about what can happen on the Internet. Back when my mom talked to me about the dangers of earrings, it was the era of big hoops. The worst that could happen to me was ripping my earlobe.

Something tells me my conversations about Facebook will be far...creepier.