Posts tagged with: teens
Happy to participate in this year’s ROCK THE DROP!
Ever since SEND was released back in August, whenever I get any sort of fan mail or reviews, the same comment comes up over and over.
“GAH! Did Dan click Send or not? Did Julie return? What happens?
Well now’s your chance to know.
Tell me what YOU’D like to see in the missing epilogue… a happily ever after? A gruesome end to Kenny? Dan’s first semester at college? A JK Rowling-like ending set 19 years after the primary story ended? You tell me and I’ll write it. Post comments here or on Facebook, your choice.
Depending on interest, I may make a contest out of this, so comment, share, discuss with friends.
The lovely Joy Preble – also a Sourcebooks author! — has invited me to take over her blog. Come on over and say hi!
A few weeks ago, Kristen Stewart released a public apology to her boyfriend of three years, Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, for apparently cheating on him with a much older and married man. This unleashed the most vicious hate campaign since the last presidential election. Fans took to the internet, recording tearful editorials, posting remarks that questioned Kristen’s intelligence, calling her names, and saying she broke THEIR hearts. Will Ferrell, a celebrity himself of sorts — certainly someone who should know better — went on TV and branded her a ‘trampire’, sparking the sale of t-shirts emblazoned with that slogan because apparently, a scarlet A just wasn’t enough. I’ve no doubt that if she were thrown in a stockade, the networks would trip over themselves in a bidding war for the rights to air her public stoning and the ratings would top the Super Bowl’s.
What colossal nerve. What outrageous hypocrisy.
I want you all to think back to a time in your life when you made a foolish mistake. Have none of you ever done something hurtful that you later regretted? Come on, you’re all human, so there must be something in your past. Can’t think of anything? How about a break-up? Have you ever broken up with someone and watched your friends take sides? Have you ever gotten caught in a lie? Have you ever said something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted because it hurt someone deeply?
Hold on to this recollection. Try to remember the emotions you experienced throughout your ordeal.
Unpleasant, isn’t it?
Good. I want you to feel unpleasant for a few minutes.
Now, imagine millions of people across the WORLD taking your mistake and dissecting it in chat rooms, on blogs, on Facebook and Twitter, on late night talk shows, in the tabloids – even in the mainstream press – and tell me how you’d feel then. It was hard enough to face the person you wronged; how would you feel if hundreds of people wore t-shirts that said “Jenny is a boss-sleeping ho” or “Matt is a mama’s boy who dumped me because she said so”?
How would you ever move beyond your mistake if it’s thrust into your face everywhere you go? Kristen Stewart is 22 years old. Put aside your envy that she’s living a life most of us can only dream about. Just focus on her age. Most young women that age are leaving college, getting their first ‘real’ job, maybe moving out of their parents’ homes. If you think this is an age when judgment is beyond reproach, then you’re delusional.
In SEND, I examine bullying from a lot of perspectives and it seems to me that this is a CLASSIC bullying situation. Kristen messed up. So what? Think of her like the girl in the cafeteria who dropped a tray of food. The part of the bully is played by Will Ferrell, who went on TV and called a young girl a trampire. He’s the guy in the cafeteria who, instead of helping the girl who just dropped her tray, stood up, and got the entire school laughing at her. And he’s just one of MANY.
And then, there’s the rest of us. The bystanders. We’re the kids in the cafeteria who stand by and do nothing to help the poor girl who dropped her tray. Worse, we laugh and encourage the bully to keep taunting her. How? We buy the trampire t-shirts, buy the tabloids, watch the late-night talk shows because we’re all such paragons of virtues who live perfect lives and are entitled to sneer at the misfortune of celebrities because they make tons of money and somehow owe us.
How do you silence a bully? By telling him he’s not funny. By defending his victim. By not wasting your money on a trampire t-shirt. By not stripping a young woman of every ounce of her self-worth. By not encouraging the media to invade Kristen’s and Rob’s personal lives.
By respecting the right everyone has to privacy – even celebrities.
How do you feel about the way Kristen’s been portrayed by the media? What do you think of Will Ferrell’s comments? Will Kristen’s actions change your mind about seeing her movies?
So… one of my Book Hungry friends – the READING MACHINE Karla Nellenbach, suggested I do an ARC Tour of SEND.
What the $%&*!@ is an ARC Tour?
Glad you asked. Here’s how it works.
*Of course, honest opinion in this case means it’s the best book you’ve ever read.
Okay, not really.
No, no! I apologize. No pressure here!
Still on the fence?
Take a look at the fabulous SEND book trailer made by the amazingly talented Jeff Somers! (If you think the trailer’s cool, check out HIS books!)
SQUEE! ! ! !
Please forgive the abuse of exclamation points but SEND HAS A COVER AND IT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING EVAH!
Do you love it?!? Tell me you love it. Lie to me if you must.
It’s really happening. My precious is A REAL BOOK! *happy dance*
I um… *coughs*… went a little overboard and created a video cover reveal. Sincerest thanks to Abby Mumford and Laurie Boyle Crompton for sending me SEND pics and to the GENIUS at Sourcebooks. You guys are ROCK STARS!
Also did a playlist of Dan’s favorite songs — and the songs Kenny would play to annoy him. Apologies: I messed up the sizing and can’t figure out how to fix it. There are about 14 songs total; just hover at the bottom of the list.
My Bookhungry book club formed over a year ago around The Hunger Games book – in fact, it was our first book review. So, what better tribute (ha ha, pun intended) than to review the movie? Warning! Spoilers ahead.
We saw the movie during its opening weekend and discussed it. I took my son even though he’d seen it on opening night.
Brief aside: Karla, Abby, and Kelly, thank you so much for letting my son join our discussion. He really enjoyed talking to all of you.
As a book club member and an author, you can well imagine what a book worm I am. It’s not often a movie adaptation pleases me. The Twilight movies kinda sucked… pretty boys to look at notwithstanding. The Harry Potter movies were excellent, as were The Lord of the Rings… but even still, there is usually so much story slashed out of the scripts that the movies suffer.
I did not find that to be true for The Hunger Games. This movie remained very true to the book.
My son and I talked about the groups of people who would see this movie. In one group, there are the book fans – The Purists. This is the group that read all three books and fell in love with the story, the characters, before a movie studio executive even heard about them. The Purists are a movie’s harshest audience. Then, you’ve got your After-The-Fact Readers. This is the group that will pick up the book after they’ve seen the movie, only because it was a movie. They’re usually easy to please. And last, you’ve got your Movie-Only people who have no interest in books at all. This group is also hard to please because the movie has to stand on its own merits so that they understand all the nuances and character flaws and subplots as they’re portrayed on screen with no inside hints.
I classify myself as a Purist.
When I learned about movie plans, I worried. Please God, don’t let it be another Twilight. I LOVE the Twilight books; I’ve read them all more than once. But the movie? Meh, even though it had Robert Pattinson. (I’m a big fan!) When the cast of The Hunger Games was announced, I was immediately pleased. Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award for her last role so YIPEE! our Katniss can act. As for Peeta and Gale, I was less concerned with the final selections for their roles because for me, the movie — like the book it was based on — is all about Katniss. I am neither Team Gale nor Team Peeta… I didn’t really care who she ended up with – only that she survived.
Purists understand Katniss is a strong, brave, determined and fiercely loyal girl. We also understand she’s a teenager. This is a tough balancing act – creating a hero who is at once brave but afraid, strong but vulnerable, tough but kind. Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t BE more perfect in this role. I had to clap a hand over my mouth to prevent my sobs from disturbing other theater-goers during The Reaping scene. I’d already forgotten she was an actor – to me, she WAS Katniss, protecting her sister. But the most potent scene in the movie was in the moments before Katniss must enter the tube that will transport her to the game arena. She talks to Cinna, quivering in her shoes, and can barely speak. Her tension and fear were so palpable, I wasn’t at all surprised to discover I was also shaking and struggling to breathe.
The movie did the book proud. The scenes where the movie deviated from the book worked well. The book is told in Katniss’s first person POV but the movie treated us to the Game Makers’ behind-the-scenes strategizing, which further drives home the Capitol’s horrifying persecution of the very people that support it. However, for the Movie-Only crowd, I’m afraid some of the subtleties were lost, like why Katniss’s mother is so unemotional, or why Haymitch is barely sober. There were a few glaring issues for me – first is that Katniss used the wrong hand to salute Rue after her death. The three-kissed-fingers salute uses the left hand according to the book, yet she used her right. But overall, the deviations didn’t detract from the story. As proof, read Kelly’s review: her husband has not read the books but found the movie enjoyable in its own right.
If forced to find fault, I’d pick the shaky cam action — it actually made me ill. And also, the lack of on-screen violence. Remember, this is a horribly violent story. Kids are competing to the death and they do die. But the battles were pretty sanitized in order to win that PG13 rating. Some members of the team thought it was better to force us to imagine these gruesome ends instead of witness them. I agree, but I do think we should have seen at least the survivors’ reactions to these deaths. Twenty-four enter but only one leaves. This has GOT to be a terrifying thing to know. To support my argument, the scene where Rue catches a spear through the stomach is out-freakin’-standing… one of the most well-acted and poignant moments in a movie for me.
Like the book before it, I give the Hunger Games movie three kissed fingers of the LEFT hand and a standing O.
Please read the rest of the Bookhungry reviews:
This month, Bookhungry chose Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT four – er, I mean for our discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first in a series I’m enormously excited to finish. Before my review, let me first summarize the plot.
Beatrice Prior is sixteen years old. She and her brother, Caleb, are just eleven months apart, which means they’re both sixteen in the same year. In their world, sixteen-year-old kids aren’t getting their learner’s permits, or buying prom dresses – they’re picking factions, one of five segments into which society has been divided. Candor, the honest; Abnegation, the selfless; Dauntless, the brave; Amity, the peaceful; and Erudite, the intelligent. Beatrice and her brother take a test that is supposed to tell them which faction they should consider devoting the rest of their lives to.
But something goes wrong. Beatrice’s test results are inconclusive. She must choose her faction because to be faction-less is much like being homeless in our world. Worse, if anyone finds out about Beatrice’s test results, she could be killed.
On the day of choosing, Beatrice or Tris, as she calls herself, chooses the faction where she thinks she is best suited. Choosing a faction means leaving her home, her family, her life, and starting over. I won’t tell you what faction she chooses – you’ll have to read for yourself. But upon moving to her new quarters, Tris meets Four.
Ah, Four. Yes, Four is the reason for my bizarre rating system. I adored this character. Four is one of Tris’s instructors and the eventual romance between them is simultaneously sweet and deadly. There’s a scene where Tris dangles from a Ferris wheel and Four actually starts the wheel to get her back to solid ground – God in heaven, I almost got motion sick on Tris’s behalf. Oh, and then there’s the –oops, TMI.
But Four is a complicated young man. Why is he called Four? I can’t tell you that. Spoilers. You have to read the story yourself. So let’s get back to Tris. Though she’s expected to determine the rest of her life at sixteen, Tris is far from an adult. She struggles with her decision, second-guessing herself and her abilities, and frequently making decisions that are emotional. As Tris endures the rigors of faction initiation, she and Four grow closer, which only increases the danger.
The story is full of action and surprises. After our book club’s discussion, I am all ready to read it again because it was THAT. GOOD.
But don’t take my word for it. See what my Book Hungry sisters have to say.
Have you read DIVERGENT? What did you think?
For my day job as a software technical writer, I’ve had to learn all about social networking – weigh the risks, know the benefits, tell the trends from the fads. It was this research that spurred my novel, SEND (August, 2012, Sourcebooks, Inc.), a story about a teen who exploits technology in the worst possible way. When I hear about young people using social networks in positive ways, I get pretty excited. This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Liana Rosenman, one of the founders of Project HEAL, a non-profit organization begun in 2008 after a Facebook reunion, which helps get treatment for those unable to afford it.
Long Island natives Liana, 20, and co-founder Kristina Saffran, 19, were recently named two of Glamour Magazine’s Young Amazings at the 2011 Women of the Year Awards. Their efforts have raised over $150,000 entirely used for eating disorder treatment. Project HEAL now has a Clinical Review Board whose members review applications for treatment scholarships twice a year and a panel of Teen Activists dedicated to taking the Project HEAL message to their communities.
I asked Liana what made her decide to take on such an ambitious project on the heels of a torturous recovery of her own. As amazing as Glamour’s award was, glory was never a factor. Liana said, “I was diagnosed when I was twelve and suffered until maybe eleventh grade.” It was during her treatment when she met Kristina Saffran. Treatment, Liana told me, “…taught me coping mechanisms. Our bodies require fuel and that means food. You have to learn to what’s healthy.”
Liana lost touch with Kristina, but reunited about a year later, after reconnecting on Facebook, which in turn, led to some nights out. It was during one of their get-togethers when the rigors of recovery as an ongoing process hit home. “We were in a rest room one night, over-hearing the ways girls– and even adults– bash their bodies.” Negative self-image is a big contributor to eating disorders and the best way to correct negative self-talk? “Remember that no one’s perfect and that’s what makes us beautiful.”
The media’s obsessive coverage of every little dimple in Hollywood creates most of our negative self-images. But a new danger is quickly outpacing magazines and movies and it’s probably already in your living room. Social networks are making it easier for young girls to form and sustain the warped mental images that can lead to eating disorders. A recent Huffington Post article about ‘thinspos’ reveals this alarming trend.
I squirmed uncomfortably during this part of our chat. Earlier that afternoon, a tweet about pretty noses had reminded me of the taunts I’d endured when in my teens and I was feeling over-sensitive as a result. As Liana spoke, it occurred to me that I’ve quite literally spent several decades of my life hating something that’s part of me for no other reason than people told me to. There’s a certain amount of liberation when you free yourself from the mindless pursuit of unattainable perfection. I shared a personal story with Liana. When in my twenties, a doctor I’d consulted about adult orthodontia instead suggested plastic surgery. First, he recommended disconnecting my jaw to realign my bite, a procedure that would also correct my ‘weak chin.’ Second, he wanted to do not one but several rhinoplasties to first shave the width of my nose and then resculpt it into the ‘perfect’ shape. I declined because I couldn’t answer a question.
“Where does it stop?” Liana interjected.
Exactly. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to fix the things I can, like my fitness level, my sugar addiction, and my creeping weight, and to accept the things I can’t. I’ll never be a five-foot-ten blonde. But Liana doesn’t want us to stop there. Instead of accepting our flaws the way we accept death and taxes, “Embrace them,” she says.
I wonder how many of us ever tell ourselves we’re beautiful?
I asked Liana about her treatment. “I had no role models. No one to look up to. I didn’t know what recovery looked like or felt like. Now, I do. I want people who want help to know they don’t forever have to be The Girl With The Eating Disorder. Recovery does not have to define you.”
That brought our conversation to another key component in Project HEAL’s mission – to make it possible for those who want treatment to afford it. “A lot of insurances don’t cover eating disorder treatment.” Project HEAL has a qualified clinical review board, whose members examine each request for funds and grant two each year based on financial and motivational factors. If you’re a teen struggling with a negative body image or eating disorder, “Get immediate help.” Liana suggests. “The faster you’re treated, the easier recovery is.” If you’re a parent, you can get advice from other parents or from Liana and Kristina directly. If you want to help, visit the website to learn how you can make a donation or start a teen chapter in your school.
“Recovery is a choice.” Liana finishes.
What questions would YOU ask Liana? Comment here. If you need help, here is Project Heal’s contact information:
Facebook: Project Heal
We’re six months away from the release of my novel, SEND, a story about a former bully learning to cope with the suicide he caused when he was thirteen. When I began writing SEND, the plot was made up — born partly from my own fears as a mother of teens and partly from an overactive imagination. Today, however, my plot is a statistic, as headline after headline announces yet another tragic end to a life spent tortured by teens who hijacked technology to maximize their victims’ suffering.
You can imagine my joy upon reading this uplifting article about two young men in Colorado who used technology to stop a suicide. A friend sent me the link last weekend, during a time when I swore bad news was circling me like vultures over a freshly-dead carcass. Instead of using social networks and cell phones to torment kids, these young men recognized the signs of an imminent tragedy and did whatever they could to prevent it.
Yes, they did prevent it.
Teens Turned Community Activists
I had the enormous privilege of speaking directly to Danny Manes, 17, and Gary Ramirez, 20, the subjects profiled in the article. Together, Danny and Gary recently launched a website called Hopeline4Teens, where they (along with their partner, Cheyenne) offer advice to teens on any issues troubling them. Suicide, sexuality, rape – no topic is off-limits. Even parents can request advice if they feel powerless to deal with a teen struggling through a problem.
Danny and Gary are two guys on a mission to help others. When I asked them why they do this work, I expected to hear trite things like “It’s the right thing to do.” Instead, Danny surprised me with two stories. First, he told me about the many suicides – plural – that left his Colorado community reeling with loss and pain. I’m in my mid-forties and I don’t know anyone who’s committed suicide; by 17, Danny has already faced such loss more than once. He’s now committed to ensuring other teens do not. If that’s not enough of a reason, how’s this: Danny admitted that in seventh grade, he was a bully; teasing a classmate because everyone else was. When it escalated to a fist fight and Danny understood how deeply he hurt this boy, he decided, “That’s not who I want to be.”
Gary contemplated suicide himself after suffering through some heavy issues. Though he is not gay, he was bullied because classmates said he was. Around this same time, he also lost his grandmother and suffered a series of anxiety attacks that required anti-depressants to correct. “I know exactly what it’s like to feel that low. I’m living proof that it gets better. That you can be happy again. I have a job. I train (Gary enjoys mixed martial arts) and compete in grappling tournaments.”
Sincerity rings in every word. But I wondered if the boys worry about saying the wrong thing, or doing something that makes a situation worse. Turns out they’re already addressing those worries. “We know we can’t save everyone,” Danny admitted. “We’re working with our local suicide prevention hotline. They’re giving us professional training.” In fact, Danny and Gary may soon answer calls on the hotline’s Teen Line as well as operate their website. “Teens live online.” Danny said. “They, especially the guys, prefer to text and blog and message instead of talk directly, so they can hide their pain.”
I can’t help wondering if SOPA and PIPA would block Danny and Gary from connecting with teens who need help — or hope.
I mentioned a recent Rolling Stone article in which a suicide outbreak took nine lives in a community where religious extremism created a vehemently anti-gay environment. Gary told me, “That makes my blood boil. I was bullied because people said I was gay even though I’m not. There’s no reason for this discrimination – it’s 2012. I have gay friends and there’s no problem with that. People need to know it’s okay to be friends with gay people even if you’re not gay. People need to stop being afraid.”
How Does Hopeline4Teens Work?
If you’re a teen, go to the tumblr site and post your problem. It’s completely anonymous. All Danny and Gary ask for is your age and gender. You can ask for Danny or Gary by name, but most problems are routed depending on the issue. Danny was once a bully; Gary was horribly bullied. Danny knows the pain that suicide causes; Gary nearly took his own life. The guys instinctively know who’s better suited to handle certain problems. “Danny is pretty religious, so he handles any problems relating to that. I want to reach out to the gay community.” Gary said. “Even parents can ask for our help dealing with a teen they don’t know how to handle.” You can chat on Facebook or call a private line, depending on your needs. “Girls might feel more comfortable dealing with Cheyenne.” Gary added.
If any advisor feels he or she can’t give you the help you need, they’ll refer you to experts who can. “We won’t just tell you what you want to hear.” Gary said. “We’ll give you the reality check.”
How Can I Help?
My son, also 17, asked me to ask how he could get started helping out. “Just do it.” Danny answered. “Nobody knows what they’re capable of until they begin.” Gary added, “If your heart is in it, the rest is easy.”
For an author whose novel focuses on the negative side of the internet, I am hugely impressed by these young people who showed us its positive side and hope readers will see them as examples worthy of emulation.
Do you know any teens doing extraordinary things? Tell me about them.
If you’re a teen or a parent of a teen who needs advice, here’s how you can contact Danny or Gary:
UPDATED MARCH 13, 2012. Hopeline4Teens is changing its name to ENCOURAGE THE YOUTH. SOME LINKS BELOW REDIRECT AUTOMATICALLY, BUT OTHERS DO NOT. PLEASE BEAR WITH ME WHILE I FIND THE NEW LINKS.