Bookish goings-on and such.

* Jezebel features a review of Sweet Valley Confidential. Deadlines kept me from the book  party, but you can bet I’m still all over reading this one. (Spoiler alerts!)

Have you bought your copy yet?

* This gown was made from Little Golden Books. Wild.

*(Of course,

these are still my fave re-appropriations of that iconic line.)









*readergirlz has a nice shout-out to the family trailer on their site, as well as info about Rock the Drop and Support Teen Lit Day. Will YOU Rock the Drop?

*Finally, two chances to see me! I’ll be on a panel at the Albany Children’s Book Festival this weekend, or,  you can Get Real with me, Sarah Darer Littman, Melissa Walker, and Lena Roy at the Voracious Reader in Larchmont, NY on 4/29 if you’re so inclined. In addition to the date of the royal wedding, that happens also to be my birthday. But your presence would be present enough!


In which we take a brief respite from shilling my work as a young adult author to consider body image issues and representations thereof in the popular culture.

So, one of Noah’s favorite bloggers, Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist), has come under fire  for his descriptions  of an atypically “full-figured” model. The Gloss has links to the full story, including a hilarious slideshow of ironic captions.

On his blog, Schuman responded to the criticism with a genuine query:

So help me understand; what is the modern way to speak about size? I’m not married to the word curvy. I’m just trying to describe her in the best way I know how. Let’s not hide from this issue; I don’t want to be afraid to talk about it on my blog. Help me describe this young lady without using the word “normal,” but in a way that addresses her body size and still references my point about the size of her legs relative to her shoes.

And The Gloss admits, “He raises a fair point that we seem to bury compliments of not- skinny women in what  comes off as a strangely back-handed supposition that their bodies typically aren’t beautiful. As if we can only find curvaceous women beautiful in spite of their curvaceousness,” concluding, “…It seems like a waste of outrage to direct it at someone who was genuine in his praise of a stylish, pretty young woman, if not mistaken in how to say so.”

I think I agree.

Yeah…I think I do. That women’s bodies are a source of public debate at all is an issue, but not one he created, and that deficiency of our vocabulary is something we should all give some thought to. Right?

But what say you?

I’m incredibly honored and excited to be included among the contributors for HarperTeen’s forthcoming Dear Bully anthology. I’ve just had my first peek at the cover and I love how powerful that image is. What do you think?

The book comes out this fall and proceeds are all for charity. My piece is a quick snippet, but the contributions are very varied; everyone involved has a unique point of view. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product. We got a nice mention in Glamour a while back, and we now have a Facebook page you can “like” to follow news and updates. You can also pre-order the book at Amazon. So many options for such a worthy cause!

Bottomless thanks, respect, and appreciation for editors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. This is an incredibly special project.

Top Shelf Tuesday

April 5, 2011

What I’m reading and loving this week.








Today’s selection should surprise no one who’s been following along:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle,
Shirley Jackson.





*(And I still want to know – whose books are scaring you right now, and how? )



I love, love, love it!
(Can you say that about something so super creepy?)

Thank you so much to Brother Dave and Dan Salomon of Hello King for capturing the eeriness of the book. And thanks to everyone on facebook and twitter for all of the shout-outs!

I am still very much thinking about unreliability and fear, both within the writing, and as part of the process. If Stephen King is my idol, Shirley Jackson is a very close second, with her ability to merge style and tension so uniquely, and with such singular success.

There is the finest of lines between writing that is so elevated it inspires, and writing so exquisite it reinforces my own artistic insecurities. Jackson teeters heavily toward the latter, but there’s no one else out there quite like her, so I forbear.

“I delight in what I fear,” she has said, and I can relate. Yes.

And in The Haunting of Hill House:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”

Yes. That.


“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.”

And yes: that, too. Yes.


But ultimately, it is this passage that never fails to at once fill me –

with delight, terror, and despair:


“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.

I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance.

I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had.

I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise.

I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom.

Everyone else in our family is dead.


You will be wondering about that sugar bowl, I imagine.

Is it still in use?  you are wondering; has it been cleaned?


You may very well ask;

was it thoroughly washed?”


We Have Always Lived in the Castle


That, that, that.

I really don’t think I can do anything like that. Not on my wildest, most vivid days.

But that.

Well, that makes me want to try, nonetheless.

Brother Dave has designed this handy-dandy graph to demonstrate his relative sympathies for a range of animal species. You’ll note that dogs rate significantly higher than human beings here, which I can kind of get behind, to be honest.

Bookish goings-on and such.







*If you’ve been following the legendary self-publishing success of Amanda Hocking, you probably won’t be surprised to read about her monster book deal with St. Martin’s of last week. Details here. (WARNING: You might not want to read this unless you’re feeling REALLY confident about your own earning potential as a writer….)

Chasing Ray’s Colleen Mondoor has a thoughtful post up raising what are sure to be the bigger questions about Hocking’s deal, and what this does (or doesn’t) mean for the self-published author in the digital age. Though I can see quite clearly that e-book deals can (and will) be lucrative for a certain type of author – namely, those who write very commercial fiction, most likely serialized, who develop passionate, rabid fan bases – I don’t know that Hocking’s model is applicable to any old writer out there. I don’t begrudge Hocking her mondo-deal because, hey, live the dream, sister!, but I do see Mondoor’s point that a ridonk advance to one author means fewer smaller advances to other, more unproven (aka less-hyped) writers.

That’s a problem, no?

Fact is, to me, anything (including any book deal) that indicates that readers are jazzed about books is a-ok by me. But I do find myself frustrated by these ever-more-jaw-dropping mega deals being reported that essentially tell me what I’m going to LOVE in the upcoming season. Big books have always existed, and likewise, so has buzz. But buzz is different than hype, in that buzz is usually generated by legitimate enthusiasm, whereas hype is fanfare. By throwing wads and wads of cash at a book, a publisher is telling me, YOU WILL CARE ABOUT THIS. I mean, maybe I will. But being dared to, to the tune of zillions of dollars, makes me feel all itchy and twitchy inside.

How could any book possibly live up to that claim?

Give me a good sleeper hit, one that takes a few months to build a fiercely loyal following, and I’m there. I don’t want to get psyched about something just because someone in a corner office told me to.

(*Side note: Colleen also wonders if Hocking’s e-book fans are going to be willing to pay full price for her books rather than the reduced e-book rate they’ve grown to expect. We’ll see!)

*Oh! But there are other writers out there, too – including moi! I’m going to be presenting a workshop to a group of major-talented high school writers as part of this Long Island English Scholars Program on Friday! That’s tomorrow! We’re talking about breaking rules in our narrative form. Though I’ve been teaching grown-ups about young adult writing for almost three years now (there’s still room to sign up for the April session, by the way!), I have very little experience with working with actual, honest-to-goodness young adults. I can’t decide if I’m more nervous, or more excited. Bit of both, it would seem.


*Double Oh! Tonight is the release party for Sweet Valley Confidential. I. CANNOT. WAIT. Were you Team Elizabeth, or Team Jessica?

*Last but not least, the Children’s Choice Book Awards finalists were announced last week. Congrats, finalists!

As if our cultural ideal of unnatural thinness weren’t destructive enough, apparently we’re now exporting our dangerous cultural aesthetic.

Jezzie reports:

Arizona State University researchers surveyed people in nine different areas around the world and found that in every location, overweight people are increasingly viewed as “ugly, undesirable, lazy, or lacking in self control,” according to EurekAlert. Biological anthropologist Alexandra Brewis, who co-authored the study, said:

previously, a wide range of ethnographic studies have shown that many human societies preferred larger, plumper bodies. Plump bodies represented success, generosity, fertility, wealth, and beauty.”

However, when presented with various statements about body size, people from the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, and American Samoa all seemed to have adopted a stigma against overweight people. Researchers found attitudes are changing quickly, too. Previous researched showed people in American Samoa didn’t have a negative view of large bodies as recently as the 1990s. Co-author Amber Wutich explained:

People from sites that have adopted fat-negative attitudes more recently seem to be more strident. The late adopters were more likely to agree with the most judgmental statements like ‘fat people are lazy.'”


Sharing is not always caring, people.

For the sake of ending on a brighter note, here’s brilliant author Sara Zarr talking about coming to terms with her own body image. Thank you, Sara!

I’m hosting this brilliant dude over at the YA Contemps blog today.

If you don’t know Andrew Karre or his work yet, you should, and if you’re an author with the chance to work with him, TAKE IT.

Here’s a snippet:

…You know that “the teenager” is an invention, right? The very concept of adolescence as a stage of life is a construct under constant review by scientists, marketers, and, of course, artists. What it means to be a teenager is a moving target, and every contemporary YA novel, every book with a teenage character, is a push in one direction or another.

Swing by if you have a chance, and tell ’em I sent ya!