Category Archives: young adult

WIN book goodies signed by 50+ of today’s hottest YA/MG authors!

Author & storyteller extraordinaire Laurisa White is hosting the SUPER SWAG SUNDAY giveaway! Every day between now and June 30th, one winner will be chosen to receive a SUPER SWAG PACK filled with all sorts of book goodies signed by 50+ of today’s hottest YA/MG authors! On the last day, one very lucky winner will receive the MEGA SWAG PACK, a collection of first edition books signed by the authors and some other very cool stuff.

Click here to enter:  http://laurisareyes.blogspot.com/2013/06/super-swag-sunday-day-2.html

superswag2b

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REUNITED Book Club Giveaway (with snacks!)

In celebration of REUNITED’s paperback release, I’m giving away 10 copies to one lucky book club. The winners will also receive a copy of REUNITED’s discussion questions, as well as an assortment of road-trip themed snacks. To enter, all you need to do is share this giveaway on Facebook, your blog, or Twitter, then post a comment about what you did in the comments section below. You’ll get one entry for each placed you shared. Plus, to earn 2 bonus entries, tell me a bit about your book club.

Book Clubs--all this could be yours...

Book Clubs–all this could be yours…

REUNITED is perfect for YA book groups and regular book groups, Recommended for readers age 12 and up.

Teachers and librarians are also welcome to enter. Contest ends Thursday, June 27th, at 8am, EST. Open to U.S. residents only, age 12 and up. Good luck!

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Filed under beach books, book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, young adult

I am a New Adult (Again)

When I was 18 years old, I could not wait to leave my boring, suburban hometown and go to college in the city of Boston. And even though Boston was only a 40-minute drive away, I was convinced that moving to the city had the power to magically transform me—80’s movie montage-style—from a chubby, overachieving nerd, into the glamorous, urbane sophisticate I was no doubt destined to become.

I began my metamorphosis by drowning my former Student of the Month persona in gallons of cheap vodka, while my inner good-girl was smothered in a wardrobe of all black.

The strange thing was, I had this one professor who somehow managed to see through my shroud of pretension and catch a glimpse of the real me.  Over the next four years, she frequently sought me out, encouraging me to get more involved with the university and become a student leader. I spent four years dodging her requests.

And yet, I found myself oddly tempted by the idea of revisiting my inner go-getter. Because somewhere hidden deep inside of me—though, evidently, not quite as deep or hidden as I thought—was a motivated, hard-working kid who didn’t really want to waste her entire life stumbling home from nightclubs at 3:00am. I was enthralled with the idea of a life of reckless hedonism, yet I could no longer ignore the ambition roiling inside of me, the desire to live out my life-long dreams, or at the very least, to get sh*t done.

Shortly after graduation, I began to reconcile these two disparate halves of myself, retaining just enough of my free-spirited proclivities to make life enjoyable, while making sure to carve out enough time to honor my inner over-achiever. I was only 23 when I started to shoot my debut feature film and my former professor was the first one to pull out her checkbook.

HWG1stFILM

I spent the rest of my 20’s pining for and simultaneously reenacting my college days. It was the 90’s, and my generation pioneered the concept of prolonged adolescence, formerly known as “slacking,” which, in turn, spawned the rise of the pervasive Man Child[1] phenomenon of today. Sure, I worked for a living and (mostly) paid my own bills. But none of my friends actually had it quote-unquote together, and as we drank our nights away at the local pool hall, we laughed over the  fact that anyone in our youthful, fun-loving age bracket actually gave a crap about bourgeois, old-people things like 401Ks, biological clocks, and marriage.

Then thirty came, hitting us like the slap of a screen door in the three-decker Allston apartment we were too old to still be renting. We certainly weren’t kids anymore. We were freaking thirty.  So where were our amazing careers? Where were the new cars and engagement rings? In a phrase: What the hell was wrong with us?

For me, turning 30 was the beginning of my adulthood, though true adulthood didn’t come until I became a parent, at age 34. Looking back, I don’t regret my extended stay in Never-Neverland, and judging from my resume (two features under my belt by age 28 and various TV-producing jobs) I can’t exactly call myself a slacker. But I do wonder what I might have achieved if I’d followed the path suggested to me by my old professor and given in to my ambitious side way back when I was still in college. I also wonder what I would have lost by giving up those extra ten years of my youth.

I spent my twenties fighting adulthood with everything I had and my thirties learning to accept it. At 43, I fully embrace my adult self, though there really isn’t another choice. Which is why I believe it’s entirely possible that New Adulthood is more than just some marketing scam cooked up by YA publishers.  I am a New Adult now, for the fourth or fifth time over. Maybe all of us always are.


[1] For more info. on the Man-Child, watch an early Judd Apatow film.

Hilary Weisman Graham is an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, and the author of the YA novel Reunited (Simon & Schuster), now available in paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Reunited-Hilary-Weisman-Graham/dp/144243984X/ref%3dsr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321630047&sr=8-1

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, new adult, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, teenage girls, writing, young adult

Take the Beach Bag Quiz & enter to WIN a FREE copy of REUNITED

Can someone please make a cocktail called "Reading on the Beach"?

Can someone please invent a drink called “Reading on the Beach”?

Q: Which of These Items Belong in your Beach Bag?

A) A tub of Crisco (for sun-tanning)

B) An obnoxiously large boom-box that only plays AM radio.

C) A thermos of piping hot Ovaltine!

D) A paperback copy of REUNITED.

(CORRECT ANSWER: D.  REUNITED, now available in paperback! Enter to WIN a FREE COPY here.  Or, buy your own.)

1_final_reunitedsmallmedium.jpg

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Filed under beach books, books, movies, YA, writing, favorite books, young adult

Curl Power

Are you old enough to remember when Nicole Kidman’s hair was actually curly? How about when Kerri Russell rocked a curly do?  And whatever happened to Andie MacDowell’s famous curls?  Or Juliana Margulies?  These ladies used to be my curly hair icons. And now… just a bunch of limp noodles.  Albeit, gorgeous ones.

Normally, I’m not one to out people.  And if I had the kind of money these women spend on hair stylists and fancy Japanese thermal relaxers, I’m sure I would have dabbled with straight hair, too.  Like most curly-haired women, I spent the majority of my life in a love-hate relationship with my curls. And though I’ve been tempted to join the hair majority, my hair’s way too kinky to be straightened by a mere blow-out, flat iron, or keratin treatment.  Even the highly toxic African-American hair relaxers I used back in college never made my hair anything other than wavy at best.

So, I understand how annoying it is to not be able to try out the latest hairstyles.  I’m in my 40’s now, and I still feel phantom pangs of jealousy over my inability to pull off feathered bangs in seventh grade.

But because I had no other choice, I ultimately learned to love and accept my crazy corkscrew hair for what it is.  Which is kind of what life’s all about, right?

So today, I call on all the celebrity frizz-heads of America and make this plea:  let your curls out of the closet and wear them with pride.  Seriously, ladies—do you want the only role model for a whole generation of curly-haired girls to be Kenny G.?

Is, Kenny G. our only hope?

Is Kenny G. our only hope?

Curl Power.  We’re here, we hate humidity.  Get used to it.

4 culry-haired young adult authors (L to R: Gina Damico, Zoraida Cordova, Hilary Weisman Graham, Sarah Beth Durst)

4 culry-haired young adult authors walk into a bookstore… (L to R: Gina Damico, Zoraida Cordova, Hilary Weisman Graham, Sarah Beth Durst)

Maude Apatow, potential Curl Power spokesmodel.

Maude Apatow: potential Curl Power spokesmodel?

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Happy Birthday to ESCAPE THEORY, TRINKETS, and Me!

There are few moments more gratifying for an author than the day his or her book gets released.  So, I would like to extend a hearty congrats to my uber-talented writer friends Kirsten Smith (Trinkets) and Margaux Froley (Escape Theory) who saw their book babies into the world today.  YA fans,  I urge you to go buy both of these great book right now.  Seriously.  What are you waiting for?  And since March 12th also happens to be my birthday, I guess that makes us triplets.  If a 40-something human could be biologically related to hardcover books.

BOTH of these great books made Publisher Weekly’s Best New Books of the Week!  Synopsis (lifted from Goodreads) are below.

TRINKETS by Kirsten Smith

Sixteen-year-old Moe’s Shoplifters Anonymous meetings are usually punctuated by the snores of an old man and the whining of the world’s unhappiest housewife. Until the day that Tabitha Foster and Elodie Shaw walk in. Tabitha has just about everything she wants: money, friends, popularity, a hot boyfriend who worships her…and clearly a yen for stealing. So does Elodie, who, despite her goodie-two-shoes attitude pretty much has “klepto” written across her forehead in indelible marker. But both of them are nothing compared to Moe, a bad girl with an even worse reputation.

Tabitha, Elodie, and Moe: a beauty queen, a wallflower, and a burnout-a more unlikely trio high school has rarely seen. And yet, when Tabitha challenges them to a steal-off, so begins a strange alliance linked by the thrill of stealing and the reasons that spawn it.

ESCAPE THEORY by Margaux Froley

Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.

Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her.  As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn’t have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentialityand tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch’s death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.

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Pimp My Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Book Marketing (in Four Easy Steps)

You have a book coming out.  Yay for you!  After you’ve taken yourself out for a celebratory dinner—using up roughly one tenth of your advance—it’s time to start thinking about your marketing plan.  “But I’m the author,” you whine. “Won’t my fancy Manhattan publisher handle all that?”  Absolutely!  If you’ve written 50 Shades of Gray.  But unless you’ve written a “big book” (and you’ll be able to tell if your advance was upwards of six-figures) chances are, your publisher won’t even shell out the forty-eight bucks it cost you to get some bookmarks printed up.

But don’t fret, because I’m about to tell you how to spearhead an amazing book marketing campaign all by yourself.

The Pea Pod photo booth really got some mileage.

The Pea Pod photo booth really got some mileage.

Step #1:  Establish an On-line Presence

Before you do anything else, it’s important you start blogging as soon as possible.  As in click away from this essay right this second and make it happen.  Presuming, of course, you’ve already set up your website, Pinterest account, and obligatory Facebook author page.  Which you obviously have.

For the next two years, when you’re not blogging, posting, or Pinning, you will spend the bulk of your time Tweeting, which is similar to writing, only shorter and less important.  Sometimes you’ll sneak a witty bon-mot onto Twitter and people will “favorite” it, and for the next 2.4 seconds of its shelf life, you’ll feel like a 21st century Dorothy Parker.  But most of the time, you will shill promotional information for your author friends in the form of re-Tweets, making your Twitter feed less of a pithy commentary on the human condition and more of a nonstop infomercial for books that ultimately will compete with your own.  Still, you work those re-Tweets like Ron Popeil works a rotisserie chicken, because when the time comes for you to promote your own stuff—and it will—you want the same re-Tweeting done for you. Kind of like the unspoken exchange for oral sex, only with less of a payoff.

It's important to work those re-Tweets like Ron Popeil works a rotisserie chicken.

It’s important to work those re-Tweets like Ron Popeil works a rotisserie chicken.

Also, did you know there are social networking just for book nerds that exist beyond the world of Facebook and Twitter?  Goodreads, Librarything, and Shelfari are three of the biggies, so, you’ll probably want to get yourself onto those, too.  But unlike the rules you give your kids on internet safety, here, your job is to do just the opposite.  Friend everyone you can, quickly and indiscriminately, the way you once did out at bars back in college.  It’s unlikely any of these book-loving strangers will harm you, or spam you, though you may be tricked into subscribing to their extremely prolific blog about steampunk.

Regardless, you nurture these online friendships with the kind of selfless devotion you imagine Gail gives to Oprah. This is called Networking, and it’s important you partake in it, because you never know if that blogger you followed on Twitter might someday help you get into the Kalamazoo Festival of Literature and Cheese Fries.  Sure, at the time, it may feel like you’re spending more hours of your day online, talking to strangers than, say, communicating with your own spouse.  But your spouse understands.  More than anyone else in the world, he is painfully aware that these next few months are all about you because—have you heard?—You Have a Book Coming Out!  And, in all likelihood, you’ll have another wedding anniversary next year.

But while you’re still sitting there at the computer, it might be a good time to think about vlogging. I know vlogging sounds scary, but really, it’s just like blogging, only people can see you, so you have to take a shower first.  Because if there’s one thing we authors love more than hunkering down for the day to write in blissful solitude, it’s doing it with lipstick on.

But don’t stress out too much about your new weekly vlog.  It’s easy enough to get the hang of it once you’ve created your own YouTube channel.  And believe me, you need your own YouTube channel, because where else are you going to host the fabulous book trailer you wrote, directed, and paid for all by yourself?

Step #2:  If You Give Crap Away, They Will Come

Now that your online presence is up and running, the fun doesn’t stop there.  As any experienced blogger will tell you, the easiest way to turn a blahg into a 5,000-visitor-a-day on-line party is by hosting contests and giveaways.  There, your fans—who, at this point, are still largely theoretical—can enter to win ARCs and other book-related swag.  What swag, you ask?  Why, I’m talking about the bookmarks, magnets, t-shirts, bracelets, and temporary tattoos you’ve designed and created at your own expense.

Of course, purchasing swag can get costly, but the good news is that blogging is free!  So it’s important to say yes to every request you get to write “guest blogs” and also to post on your own blog frequently.  Squeezing in extra work hours to blog may seem hard at first, kind of like when you went from your freewheeling, childless lifestyle to having kids.  You spend the first few months walking around like an angry zombie because you’re not getting nearly enough sleep.  But before long, it’s become second nature, and you literally can not believe how much time you wasted before you were in the habit of writing twelve hours a day!  (Though you have a sneaking suspicion there was a couch involved, and a TV with Project Runway on it.)

But you are An Author, goddammit, and some book blogger who you know only by the name @TeamEdward wants you to tell all their followers what your favorite junk food is.  So, at the end of the day, what’s an extra 500-1,000 words among (anonymous online) friends?

Naturally, you set up a month-long “blog tour” scheduled around your book’s release.

Step #3:  Getting Maximum Exposure Off-Line (i.e., In Real Life)

Your publisher loves your book trailer and is thrilled with your can-do attitude!  Your editor tells you you’re such an expert on book marketing you could teach a class on it.  So, you do—pimping yourself out for workshops at whatever writing conferences and book festivals will have you.  Once there, you do your best to distinguish your charming self from your fellow panelists without seeming like too much of an attention whore.  Of course, you are an attention whore, like all vloggers, but you justify your showboating because A) it might sell four extra copies of your book and B) you are still less of a douche-bag than that chick with the bangs who keeps leaping up to quote Shakespeare.

At least so far. Your book doesn’t hit the shelves for another month.

But the best part about marketing your book in the real world is that it exists simultaneously with the world on-line.  This means the opportunities for multi-tasking are endless, allowing you to dazzle your peers by, say, hosting a virtual blog hop at the exact same time you drive to New York to spend the week at BEA!

By now, nothing can stop you.  You are a force of nature.  A one-woman marketing machine.  If only there were a way to take your mad skills a step further.  To turn your book’s release into a bigger story with national media interest.  So, you talk to a book marketing consultant and together you shape a quirky yet brilliant plan.  The only problem is, pulling this off will be awfully expensive, so you spend three hours crafting the perfect email to your publisher asking them to split the cost. Amazingly, they say yes!  That’s how much they believe in you.  After all this time, they’re finally giving you the recognition you truly deserve.  It may not be an in-house champagne party, like the one they threw for John Corey Whaley, but on the plus side, the head of marketing now knows your name.

With your awesome marketing consultant and your publisher behind you, your promotional efforts are starting to build a buzz, eventually landing you a story in Publisher’s Weekly. You try to manage your expectations, but as any first-time author knows, this clearly means the New York Times bestseller list can’t be far behind.

Cut to:  two weeks later, where, sadly, you realize the Publisher’s Weekly article wasn’t the star-maker you thought it would be.  So you regroup and try a new tactic, like writing personal letters to every indie bookstore within a hundred miles of your hometown, each one personalized with the mention of your local connection to their store—your Uncle Siegfried shoplifts there!—while simultaneously encouraging them to purchase multiple copies of your book, hand-sell the shit out of it, and have you in for a reading and book-signing, too.

Since you’re already in the letter-writing groove, why not send some to schools asking if they want an author visit?  Oh, and while you’re at it, you may as well whip out a few press releases to all of your local media outlets.

Still, this might not be enough.  So you place an ad on Shelf Awareness.  For the same amount of money, you could have gone to Canyon Ranch for the weekend, but this is your first book and you want it to do well, so screw tranquility and hot stone massages.

Step #4:  Making the Most of Release Day and Beyond

Finally, it’s release day—the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the mind-altering orgasm to the past 30 months of foreplay.  But for some niggling reason, it doesn’t feel quite like release, even though the word release makes up half the phrase.  Sure, it’s exciting to see your book in stores.  And you’re tickled by the good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, not to mention the fan-mail.  Plus, you are grateful, so very grateful, that all your hard work has finally paid off and you have now joined the esteemed ranks of published authors.  But… part of you hoped that your book coming out would be the grand finale, and as it turned out, it was only the beginning.

Your publisher didn’t mention it in the “Author Guide” they gave you, but now that you’re a published you’ve learned the big secret.  Book publishing’s a total a cock tease.  You don’t even own a cock, but you know this now, more than you’ve ever known anything.

Not that you have the time to contemplate genitalia now that your book’s out in stores.  Even if you did, you’re married to a new husband now.  His name is Amazon Author Central, and he has you so far under his thumb you feel like a cult leader’s fourth wife, only with a better haircut.  Sure, you’ve been told that the Nielsen BookScan numbers represent roughly 75% of your total sales, but you’re pretty sure yours might reflect even less, because surely, after all the time and money you’ve spent pimping your book, it must be selling better than this.

In your saner moments, you tell yourself to withhold judgment, to wait until you get your royalty statement and see the actual figures.  But most of the time, you live or die by the numbers on Amazon Author Central, which you now check on an hourly basis, ignoring your author friends gentle reminders that it’s way too early to know how your book’s really doing since your it’s only been out a week. Your therapist chimes in, too, telling you that your book’s “success” or “failure” is only a story you’ve made up in your head.  The problem is:  you’re really good at making up stories.  That’s why you became an author in the first place!  Still, you need to get off of this crazy train or you’ll snap, and last time you checked, The Betty Ford Clinic didn’t have an Amazon Author Central wing.

So you decide to stop, cold turkey.  No more Amazon Author Central ever again.  Just after you check the numbers one more time.

Of course, there’s nothing like a good launch party to lift your spirits. And your local indie bookstore that hosts it sells more copies of your book in one day than any other book they’ve ever sold.  Except for Harry Potter.  And The Hunger Games.  And 50 Shades of Gray. But that doesn’t matter, because there’s a cake with your book cover on it and your shoulders look great in that dress.  Oh, and did I mention that your book is in every Barnes and Noble in the country?  Face out.  Sometimes, it’s even on an end cap next to John Green’s book, because obviously, your book and his book are BFFs who spend each night, after the store has closed, snuggling together and whispering secrets in the dark.

IMG_0256

REUNITED, in good company.

But in the light of day, you can’t just let your book sit there.  You need to get out and do something, to spread the word even further.  So you set up library events and school visits, which you do relentlessly, for free.  You schedule readings at every bookstore that will have you, and sometimes, more than five people attend!  Oh, how you wish you’d written 50 Shades of Gray.

Often, as you drift off to sleep at night, you wonder if it would all be different had your publisher put your book up on NetGalley.  Or, if your time and money would have been better spent buying 1,000 copies of your own book and just giving them away to young readers, for free.  Either that, or Facebook ads.  Why didn’t you just try Facebook ads?

Still, there are more good reviews in the trades, and you’re still getting fan-mail.  So you learn to smile graciously when people commend you for your marketing savvy, even though there’s the slight chance your book’s sales might have been exactly the same had you done nothing at all.  The truth is, you’ll never know whether or not your marketing efforts were effective, or which ones worked, and which ones didn’t.  Because if you knew this, it would mean your publisher also knew it, and if that were true, every book ever written would be a huge financial success. Which your book might also be, only you haven’t gotten your royalty statement yet.

———-

A shout-out to my pal A.C. Gaughen (author of SCARLET) who asked me to write a short piece on book-marketing & ended up with this. ;)

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, Social media, 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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Filed under book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, writing, young adult

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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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, rock bands, young adult