Category Archives: young adult

Nothing Compares 2 U

TeamTeen(1)

Today’s theme for the TeamTEENAuthor group post is Break-Ups.  But since it’s been a loooong time since I’ve had one of those (1997, to be exact) I’ve decided to write about friendship break-ups, which is a huge part of my book, REUNITED.

Though if you’ve recently had your heart broken, go put on a pair of comfy PJs, open up the Ben and Jerry’s, and see my recommendations for the best break-up albums and movies at the end of this article.

Divorcing Our Friends: When Friendships Fall Apart

I got dumped freshman year of high school. Not by my boyfriend, because, sadly, I didn’t have one, but by Shannon*, the girl who had been my best friend since age ten. Shannon and I had spent the past five years practically living at each other’s houses. We went of our first double date together, attended the same summer camps. In fifth grade we wore matching Van Halen baseball shirts to school once a week.

Then high school came and something shifted. For reasons I couldn’t explain, Shannon started spending more time with Chrissy* and Megan*, two pony-tailed blondes from our soccer team. Each weekend, the three of them would go off to cool upperclassmen parties, while I sat at home, pining for the carefree days of sleepovers, riding bikes, and making prank phone calls. Sure, I wouldn’t have been opposed to tagging along for a keg party or two, or making out with any number of cute boys from the varsity soccer team. The problem was, Shannon never asked me along.

Then one winter night, a few months into the school year, I was trying to coordinate plans for Shannon and I to attend a hockey game, when she simply stopped answering my calls. After ten or twenty desperate attempts to get her to click over to the other line, she finally picked up, only to tell me that she’d already made plans to go to the game. With Chrissy.

“Fine,” I told her, not getting the message, “I’ll meet you guys there.”

“No,” Shannon said, her voice oddly distant. “Chrissy and I don’t want you to come.”

So, it was very healing, twenty-five years later, when I managed to land my first book deal because of that painful experience. Reunited, my debut young adult novel, tells the story of three ex-best friends who take a road trip from Boston to Austin to attend the one-night-only reunion show of the band they all once loved. And though I’ve never had the pleasure of driving cross-country with my ex-best friends, thanks to Shannon, I was able to connect with the complicated feelings of a friendship gone south.

But whether or not we’ve gone through a traumatic split like mine, we’ve all had the experience of losing a friend. Usually, we don’t mean for it happen. But over time things change—we move, we get involved in romantic relationships, we spend more time on our careers, our marriages, and our kids.

Sometimes, friendships crumble simply because our lifestyles have become too different. It seems like everyone has at least one friend who never quite managed to grow up. Back in college; you two partied like it was 1999. Hell, it was 1999. But a decade later, you’re busy attending school plays and shopping for lawnmowers, while your old pal is still out hitting the bars five nights a week.

Then there are friendships that break up due to some act of transgression, jealousy, or deceit. Angry words are exchanged Real Housewives-style, eventually culminating in a dramatic, and usually permanent, parting of ways. I don’t think this phenomenon is all that common, at least among the rational, self-aware women I know, though it seems to be one of the few kinds of female “friendship” portrayed on reality TV.

So, what’s the real culprit? Why do some friendships fall apart while others stay together?

I think it all centers around our ability to be open—not just to intimacy, which of course, is a big part of any meaningful relationship, but also to having people in our lives who may not be exactly like us. The older we get, the more we figure out who we are, which is mostly a wonderful thing, but can also be limiting, if we’re not careful. Understandably, I prefer to spend my time with people who share my values, interests, and my undying, irrational love for Pa Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. But over the years, I’ve learned that connecting with people is about more than just that. It’s about building a special world together that only you share, a secret clubhouse of sorts, only without the “No Boys Allowed” sign tacked to the door. Though it’s strongly implied.

Personally, I am lucky enough to have remained close with a big group of old friends who date back to my childhood. Some of us still have a lot in common. Others, it’s doubtful we’d strike up a friendship had we met today. But even though our lives may be quite different, there’s something quite great about sharing a history with someone, a comfort, and even a vulnerability, in knowing that this friend understands the person you used to be—and still are, at your core.

I am also blessed to have lots of “new” friends who I share a lot in common with and who live close by. For the past three years, this group of women and I have spent every Tuesday night together, barring a snowstorm or a kid with a high fever. Together, we put a lot of energy into nurturing our friendship, making sure to prioritize it in our hectic daily lives, because keeping a friendship alive takes work, just like a marriage does.

Unfortunately, the busy twenty-first century world we live in is too often a killer of friendships. We’re always juggling a million things at once, so friends are squeezed in like an afterthought, in between romantic partners, kids, and work. It doesn’t help that with the advent of Facebook, the very definition of word “friend” has been trivialized to include “that kid you once sat next to in Calculus class.”

Sure, our friendships as women might take some effort to maintain. And they’ll never have the same intensity they did when we were girls, back when our best friends were our everything. But the laughter, wisdom, and emotional support my friends and I give each other gives back to each of us in profound and significant ways. Because of my Tuesday nights out, I’m a better wife, a better mother, and a happier me. And if I ever have an overwhelming desire to discuss Pa Ingall’s sex appeal, I know I’m not alone.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

—————————————————–

And now, a little something for the lovelorn…

Hilary’s List of “Best Break-Up Movies”

Weirdly, Zooey Deschanel’s in two of them.

  • 500 DAYS OF SUMMER
  • CELESTE & JESSIE FOREVER
  • ALL THE REAL GIRLS
  • ANNIE HALL
  • HIGH FIDELITY

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Hilary’s List of “Best Break-Up Albums”

Not weirdly,  two of them are by Joni Mitchell.

  • JONI MITCHELL – BLUE
  • JONI MITCHELL – COURT & SPARK
  • NICK CAVE – THE BOATMAN’S CALL
  • THE CURE – DISINTEGRATION
  • RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON – SHOOT THE LIGHTS OUT
  • ALANIS MORRISSETTE – JAGGED LITTLE PILL

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Oh, and the all-time best break-up song ever… Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”

For more teamTEENauthor posts about break-ups, check out these:

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, friends, friendship, friendship break-ups, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, teenage girls, young adult

The Next Big Thing: GIRLS LIKE ME

I haven’t blogged as much lately, so I was happy when my friend Sera Rivers tagged me to be a part of The Next Big Thing Blog Tour. You can check out her post about her work-in-progress — the amazingly titled POE IS ME – by clicking here.

And here are the deets about my Work-In-Progress.

What is your working title of your book?  GIRLS LIKE ME

Where did the idea come from for the book?  The idea started with a meeting I had in LA two years ago where a producer suggested that I brainstorm ideas for a modern adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN. I never managed to do this successfully, but ended up with about a dozen other ideas, one of which was GIRLS LIKE ME.

What genre does your book fall under?  Contemporary YA.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Chloe Moretz as Zoe

Bella Thorne as Nora

Dakota Fanning as Brooke

China Anne McLain as Claudia

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? When a life-changing emergency plane landing compels Zoe Marshall’s pilot father to come clean about the three illegitimate children he fathered back in his days as a ladies’ man, Zoe’s feels like her whole life’s been a lie. But things go from bad to worse when Zoe’s dad invites his long-lost daughters to spend the summer with them in New York.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  My agent is shopping it now (fingers crossed).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  I’m trying to sell it as a partial.  I currently have 108 pages and a 30-page, chapter-by-chapter synopsis.  I think it took me about three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  Hmmm, I can’t think of any actual books like it, but tonally, it’s Sarah Dessen meets Jay Asher.

Next up on the The Next Big Thing Blog Tour:

Tom Ryan, author of WAY TO GO (Orca Book Publishers)  www.tomwrotethat.com

Susanne Winnacker, author of The Other Life, its sequel The Life Beyond (coming March 1, 2013 from Usborne), and Impostor (coming July 11, 2013 from Razorbill/Penguin)  www.susannewinnacker.com

Julie True Kingsley, soon-to-be-published author & blogger extraordinaire. http://julietruekingsley.com

Wendy Thomas, 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, chicken goddess, and author of of the ebook:  Waste Not, Want Not – How Weighing Discarded Edible Waste for One Month Taught My Family the Value of Food http://simplethrift.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/lesson-678-the-next-big-thing/

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The Stuft Clappers and Other Fictional Bands

The Stuft Clappers, and their manager, Gus.  (Note the stage light on the left.)

As some of you know, I’m a big fan of fictional bands.  More specifically, I have a thing for bands that are simultaneously real and imaginary–like Level3, the band in my book, REUNITED.

Level3 has a website.  They have songs.  They even have a their own pop-up documentary.  But, if you’re waiting for Level3 to play at your local music venue, that’s where the reality stops.

So, when I learned that my young friend Gus was also the manager of a real-yet-not-real band, I just had to write about it.   Behold the Stuft Clappers–the most adorable, fluffy-haired boy band since One Direction!  But don’t let their soft exterior fool you.  These dudes know how to rock!

The rhythm section. Meow!

I’ve known Gus since the day he came home from the hospital. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable degenerative muscle disorder.  At that time, I happened to be writing the manuscript for REUNITED.  If you haven’t read the book, the whole impetus for the girls’ cross-country road-trip is centered on the band Level3 getting back together for a one-night-only reunion show.  The cause?  A benefit concert for an incurable disease that effected lead singer Travis’s brother.  At this stage in my writing, I’d considered a few different diseases to use for this purpose, but had yet to settle on one.

Then, one day, I was taking a walk with Gus’s mother, Tonya, who mentioned how important it was to raise awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, because awareness helped raise money for research, which, in turn, could help help lead to a cure.  So, I asked Tonya if she’d mind if I made the concert  in my book a fundraiser for DMD.  She said yes.

It’s probably barely noticeable to most reader’s, but it made me happy to know that I’d helped Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy have a more public profile, if only in this one small way.

To find out more about DMD, click here.  Or, visit the Hope for Gus Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to raising money for DMD research) where you can learn more about Gus and even make a donation.  Let’s help the Stuft Clappers rock on forever!

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What makes a great book club

Last week, I had the honor of doing my first book club visit as a published author, thanks to my friend Connie, one of my biggest cheerleaders. Though not technically young adults, Connie’s book club branched out from their typical reading fare in order to include my YA novel, REUNITED.  The afternoon started with a fun speaking event at the Westfield, MA Athenaeum,  followed by a lovely dinner with the book club gals.

Having never been to a book club other than my own, it was exciting to get a glimpse of another group’s unique combination of literature, food and friends–this special recipe being the heart and soul of the book club experience.  Plus, a good book club exposes us to ideas, authors, and cuisines that we might not have discovered to on our own.  Just like the Westfield ladies probably wouldn’t have have found my book, had it not been for Connie’s gentle prodding. ;)  Right now, my book club’s reading THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Diaz.  What are you reading in your book club?

Books, food, and friends–a hat-trick of awesomeness.

 

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, favorite books, friends, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, young adult

Toilet Papering the Yard – from the pranksters at The YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes

Welcome to “Toilet papering the Yard,” which, in addition to being an obnoxious yet biodegradable Halloween prank, is also the name of my group in  the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes.  If you’ve never hopped with us before, the YAmazing Race is the coolest blog hop ever featuring over 50 YA & MG authors and tons of excellent prizes including: books, gift certificates, swag, and a personalized make-over from Honey Boo Boo. 

Okay, I made up that last one. ;)

If you haven’t yet been to the Apocalypsies website, CLICK HERE to start from the beginning and read the complete rules.  Now, off to the races! (Official start time is Monday, 10/22 at noon EST.)

REUNITED  Synopsis

1 Concert.    2,000 Miles.     3 Ex-Best Friends

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.  Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.  But when the band broke up, so did their friendship.  Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.  Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show. Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse.  And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town.  But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

 _______________________________________________________________________________________

Now tuck that away in your clever, little brain for the quiz at the end.

But before you go – here’s a bonus contest! Do any of the following and you’ll be entered to win a signed hardcover copy REUNITED!

And if you do all five you’ll be entered five times!

Ready to keep racing?  Then check  out the website for INNOCENT DARKNESS author & steampunk goddess Suzanne Lazear to move on to the next stop.  Good luck!

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Calling all Los Angeles Reader Girls! (and boys)

On October 25th at 7:00pm, I’ll be doing a reading/book signing at the Glendale Americana Barnes & Noble along with the fabulous Carmen Rodrigues (34 PIECES OF YOU) and Suzanne Lazear (INNOCENT DARKNESS).   We’ll also be talking about the process of of seeing a Young Adult novel into the world.  So, if you’re a YA fan and/or an aspiring writer, please join us for a night of books, fun, and giveaways!

Writing Young Adult

Date:  October 25th

Time:    7:00pm

Admission:  Free

Location:  Glendale Americana Barnes & Noble

The Americana at Brand 210 Americana Way

Glendale, CA

(818) 545-9146

Event website:  http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/4005813

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Win Tons of Books & Stuff at TeamTEEN Author’s Dare Day Challenge

Guess what, teamTEEN author fans?  It’s Dare Day again!  I know I said that last week, but apparently I jumped the gun a bit.  Whoops.  But the good news is, this week, you can enter to win books & stuff!

To check out all of the fabulous PRIZES, just go to the TeamTEEN Author Dare Day Contest, read the rules, enter the contest, & you may just get lucky.

Dares for this week were concocted by the evil, young minds over at The Perfect 10.  Our choices were:

1) Covering your face with peanut butter & takign a picture (yum!)

2) Writing about your most embarrassing teen moment Shakespearean sonnet-style

3)  Revealing your biggest teen crush, complete with photos (see below)

And if you like seeing authors make fools of themselves, check out these Dare Day posts from other TeamTEEN Authors.

Julie Cross

Janci Patterson

Laura Ellen

Elizabeth Amisu

Eugene Meyers

Kim Sabatini

And now, I present to you, my biggest teen celebrity crush.

My Celebrity Crush Likes Richard Nixon!

I guess I’m a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to love.  Sure, I had my share of teen crushes, but always on boys I actually knew, boys who were, at least theoretically, within my grasp.  Unlike my pre-teen friends, I never understood the thrill in pressing my lips to the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine.  Probably because I had the good sense to realize that there was no way in hell Leif Garret or Shaun Cassidy would choose a nine-year-old as their girlfriend.  And except for one naughty dream about Van Halen front-man David Lee Roth (which I blame entirely on my subconscious) the boys of my fantasies were always just regular ol’ dudes.

And then I saw Michael J. Fox.

For the record, I also had a girl-crush on Justine Bateman.

Never mind that he was 5’2” and, in all likelihood, weighed less than me. Or that his character on FAMILY TIES was a rabid Republican.

Why, Alex, why???

Then BACK TO THE FUTURE came out, and my infatuation swelled to proportions not even a flux capacitor could measure.

Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?

By the time I went to Japan for the summer as an exchange student, I’d created a well-worn collection of romantic MJF fantasies to keep me company whenever I felt lonely. Which was a lot.  These often played to the soundtrack of Paul Simon’s Graceland—one of the few cassette tapes I’d brought with me on my trip.

Thinking about that time in my life brings up fond memories. And as a tribute to my former crush, I’m going to go donate to his charity for Parkinson’s Disease right now.

https://www.michaeljfox.org

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