Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Release Day - Part Cinq

That's part five for those french-challenged.

A rebel at heart, always, I refused - REFUSED to take Spanish simply because it was the number one growing language and would come in handy later. And yes, there are plenty of days at my FTJ where a spanish-speaking background would so come in handy and yes, the only time I really got to use my five years of French teaching in any extensive manner was last year when I chaperoned my daughter's french class trip to Quebec and I made the kids order Subway in French. But, what of it?

I...oh wait, I got a little off track here. For some reason, I tend to be a little defensive about having taken French instead of Spanish *raises eyebrow at mother who still questions my choice to learn a beautiful but "useless" language*

Hrmph, try telling that to my group who so eloquently ordered their subs in perfectly mangled Franglish every night.

No, today is not about French vs. Spanish or daughters vs. moms, it's about *trumpets blaring*

I promised myself I wouldn't get all choked up, especially after Don Tate teased me for revealing that I cried after writing a scene in Who You Wit'?

I refuse to let him make the case that YA writers are weepy, even if I sort of am.

But this is the last and final book in a series prompted by my goal to show a side of African American teen life that is not depicted enough in fiction. Subjective as "enough" may be, that's my story and I'm standing by it.

I've spent the last three years nurturing the teen characters in these books and now, it's all over. It'll be so weird not having a next book on the horizon.

Of course, I've had more time to get used to that reality than the readers. The Flipping The Script manuscript has been done and done since about October. And mentally, I've had to move on to new work.

Still, release day makes it all so real and final!

Flipping The Script focuses more on the boy characters - Michael, JZ, and to a lesser extent Raheem. And while I love me some happy the risk of being spoilerific, I let the story do what it do. Interpret that the way you'd like.

If you've not read the first four books ::la, la, la I can't hear you:: now's a good time to do so. Remember, if the earlier books, aren't on the shelves, ask and they'll be ordered.

Meanwhile, I'll keep writing to block out the inevitable silence that'll crash in on me a few months from now when I'm no longer able to create a new Release Day post.


Friday, March 27, 2009

YA Authors Tweetin'

YA author, Mitali Perkins, in the great tradition of Follow Friday on Twitter, has taken on the task of listing YA authors on Twitter.

The list is 50 authors and growing. And quite an impressive list it is, I must say. All genres of Young Adult fiction and authors from the barely known to the best selling.

If you want to keep up with what these authors are doing, their writing process or ever had a desire to join in on live tweets on Idol night (Jo and Neesha, may I consider Tuesday's our standing date?) here's your chance.

Come on in, the water's fine.

The Un-clique "Clique" Series

When my Del Rio Bay Clique series was announced in February 2006, Girls Life Magazine debuted it on their blog in one of those "check this book out," promos.

Love to Girls Life!!

For the week my book was the feature, I lurked on the blog and read the comments from readers - always a dangerous thing for an author, who at the time, was still trying to thicken her skin for criticism of any type.

The comments ranged from curiosity to outright hateration.

The curious ones were typically readers who already enjoyed "clique" books and saw my book as an opportunity to quench their thirst for more. While the haters either labeled my book a Gossip Girl/The Clique wannabe, surely it couldn't be as good as those, or ranted against the very existence of "clique" books.

You know how people say "no offense" before they're ready to say something that totally offends someone? Well no offense, but my books aren't and never were meant to be anything like Gossip Girl or The Clique novels. But because the series revolved around a clique that was hard to dispute until someone actually, ya' know, picked up the book and read it!

I've found myself defending cliques for many years, moreso since I started writing YA fiction.

To the public, cliques are evil, snotty groups that terrorize anyone in their paths that dare not move out of their way or think their way. In my books (based on my own high school circle of friends), the clique is a group of friends who share their most significant teen years growing and maturing together.

Just days away from the last of my series ready to drop the topic of the dangers of cliques has reared its head. I call that, an opportunity to educate!

A recent Ypulse article talks about the dangers of glamorizing cliques in answer to a New York Times article on real-life clique drama surrounding an elite private school in Connecticut.

Please, check out both articles. They're good reads. But in honor of the release of the last and final Del Rio Bay book, Flipping The Script, I must break out a good ol' list:

Why the DRB series is NOT your average Clique book

They're not rich be-yotch!

For the most part, clique novels revolve around privelged teens. One might get the impression that all rich kids are total snots, if these meant-for-entertainment outlets were taken too seriously. My novels follow six teens from varying economic backgrounds, though admittedly primarily solid middle class.

So Not The Drama is about the challenge of accepting others no matter their parents bank balance. Yes, there's a "mean" girl. God love my character Jessica. She's a misguided teen who covets the material. But she's not your average Queen Bee, more like a wannabe that somehow made it into the fold of her clique, who will do whatever it takes to stay there. But she's also a secondary character!

Purple labels aren't a character

I skimmed a The Clique book once and nearly got a rash thinking about coming face-to-face with the snitty main character. Within the first few paragraphs she'd dropped the name of more designer labels than I even knew existed.

I actually read three Gossip Girl books and enjoyed them. They're a fun read. Don't take that from them. But the wealth of the characters and what they wear are so dominate, at times, the label dropping makes the clothing seem as if it were a character.

Is fashion a component in my books? You betcha. Michael is an up and coming fashion designer...or at least he will be one day. But fashion is linked to Mina's quirky style and Michael's Tim Gun-like need to prevent fashion faux pas by his best friend. His ambitions go beyond simply being obsessed with wearing the right labels. His eye is on turnubg love of fashion into a paying passion.

My characters swim on the deep end of the pool

To say that all characters in clique novels are shallow is a generalization I won't be a part of. I've not read every clique novel, so I can't say. But, because the point of this list is to convince naysayers that they've got to look beyond the pouty teen models on the colorful covers, I've got to point out that there's more substance to my books than the average clique novel.

So Not The Drama touches on racism and prejudice. Don't Get It Twisted is about a teen love triangle and rising above humiliation. That's What's Up! is about the consequences of getting caught wrong. Who You Wit'? is about first times vs. abstaining from sex and Flipping The Script is about homophobia blowing up in your face.

Every "issue" is wrapped in light, teen vernacular and antics, because it's my job to make getting to the end voyeuristic and fun.

Clique isn't a four-letter word

There's no doubt, the biggest difference with my books is that the clique are the good guys. They're not the bullies. They're not foisting their views, desires and standards on anyone else at their school.

I mean for the reader to see themselves among the motley DRB crew - a group of teens who find themselves, not only bonding over their similiarities but also questioning how they can work around their differences.

In some instances they manage to work around the differences. And in others they don't. The consequences - be they good or bad- always impacts the overall circle of friendship. Because that's life.

I wrote the books to tell the story of this group of teenagers and how they survived high school, together. In my mind, their experiences are as real as any teenager in America because most teenagers in America aren't super rich or dirt poor. Most teenagers in America aren't one-dimensional jocks, geeks, goths or insert-stereotype-here, but rather multi-faceted teens who may be those things plus twenty other things in addition...and it's the popourri within that makes high school hard sometimes. They're trying to figure it out alongside their peers and now and then it makes for conflict and confrontation. But it also sometimes serves as a recipe for friendships that last a lifetime.

I didn't write the books to glorify or demonize cliques. I wanted to create an homage to my own clique for the wonderful memories we made together and I believe, I did. If my teen experiences and thus my books serve as the flip side to show cliques do not have to be sanctioned suburban gangs, hey, sign me up. I'll be the Poster Child all day long.

But based on the number of folks ready to quickly discard my books as just another set of clique books, it's safe to say my type of "clique" books are in the minority.

Notice, I can't stop putting clique in quotes whenever the word is anywhere near a reference to my book.

No offense, other clique books.

But don't take my word for it. Take the Un-clique Challenge and read them for yourself.

This has been a Public Service Announcement for P's mission to dispel myths about cliques.

That is all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rockin' The Drop This Year

Last year, I was at the Romantic Times convention in Pittsburgh (yes, yes, Steeler fans we know. You won the Super Bowl. Geez). And though I suppose I could have Rocked The Drop right there in Steel City, I didn't feel comfortable doing it in a location unfamiliar to me.

And now that I think on it, Pittsburgh didn't have any one area teeming with people, much less teen readers. But I digress.

This year I am totally going to Rock The Drop with Readergirlz!

Operation Teen Book Drop

I'm not gonna lie, I feel very odd about simply "dropping" my book somewhere. I swear, I'm already fearing the strobe lights and siren as they pick me up for littering.

But I'm going to overcome my fear and drop a few books near teen friendly places in the area. I have a few in mind, but feel like I should truly strategize this.

I know, me overthink something? Pish, never.

But spread the word. The point of the event is to have teens and authors drop their favorite books. So anyone can do it.

Get to dropping.

I love this initiative. It would be cool to walk around my city and see random books lying in wait for a teen to find them. It's all very covert and sneaky in a book nerd kind of way.

Hey, if the title fits, I'm wearing it!

But, on April 16th if you see one of my DRB books lying around wasn't me.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Tweet Back!

Okay, so I exiled myself from a fairly large portion of the blogosphere over the last ten months. It just became too much to blog, read other people's blogs, write, work, spend time with the fam blah blah blah.

I pulled back, dropped out of some of my blogging committments (miss ya' GCC) and attempted to reconnect to "real" life. But I'm ready to re-engage. Yes, it's true - P is back!

But blogging is so yesterday, people. I don't have time to write a whole page on what I'm doing. That takes way too much effort to remain cogent. So I'm now a Facebook/Twitter junkie. Blogging, I don't have time for, but especially since I can update from my phone, letting you know what floats through my mind at any given moment, I can do!

Why should I care what's floating through your mind, P? You're saying.


I have no idea. But I find most of the tweets quite enjoyable. Diddy's tweets keeps me rolling, while School Library Journal keeps me in the know. I've never been so equally connected to fluff and substance. Sweet!

Although I'm a little afraid of falling victim to short attention span syndrome, it's a hell of a lot easier keeping up with my friends, associates and various industry orgs via Twitter and FB than a full blog.

So, you know how I do. If you're down, follow me at

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours...thoughts, that is!