Thursday, April 26, 2012

Building a "provocative" book club

So some of you may know that I'm in the embryonic stages of starting a community YA book club that focuses on issue books. I've been interested in this ever since Simone Elkeles mentioned to me that she did book club in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

My MSW friends have offered to help and we'll be working in conjunction with clinicians and pediatricians in the community to find kids who would be interested in something like this. Luckily, I happen to know clinicians and pediatricians and social workers who have A LOT of heart for this idea. We had a BIG meeting today to brainstorm over how to run something like this because it actually takes a lot of parts.

We need space for the book club (thank you, library). We need teens to be in it. We need books. We need book club questions. We need resource information (since we're dealing with issue books, we thought it would be good to have resources available on the issues). And we need PARENTAL CONSENT.

Julio asked me why I would get involved with something that is seemingly a TREMENDOUS amount of work. My answer was very simple, but also very true:

And in case you haven't read the article "Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood" from Sherman Alexie, I'm linking it here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Simplicity is my favorite word

I know I should join Pinterest or Tumblr or Klout or all these things, but honestly, I don't have enough to say or share, I think. Also, I'm not great with online time management and wonder how others balance it. How do you find time to write, have a day job, have a family/friends, and do all the social media stuff? I'm a major multi-tasker, but still...

It's a bit exhausting to me. So today, I'm going to share two simple things that made me smile this week:

This is going to be my life in one year!!!

This is so awesome, I want to squeeze everyone in the world.
Also, next Tuesday, I'm bringing back INSIDE THE AUTHOR'S STUDIO and will have K.M. Walton on my blog and will be giving away a copy of CRACKED. So you all should pop back for that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Writing Loss...

So MJ and I have drafted and edited a book called LOVE BLIND. It's a book I wanted to write for a long time, but didn't think I could. Which makes me feel very proud of it. I don't think I could have written it alone. There's something about passing a difficult book back and forth between people. Like when it becomes too much, it is so nice to send it along and say, "Okay, your turn."

The book is about two friends who never get their timing right. I call it my anti-love story. At the heart of this book is the loss of a very good friend. Though the book is not my story and the character is not him, the sentiment behind it belongs to him. Losing someone too early, not being able to say goodbye, these are things I understand. I imagine that many of you feel the same way.

There is something about writing through grief that is amazingly therapeutic. For me, it is better when I am far away enough from an experience that I can incorporate the feelings, but also know that I've worked my way through them. All of what I write is fiction. But at the same time, there is an element of truth in the feelings that cannot be fictionalized. Grief cannot really be fictionalized.

So without further ado, here is our very unconventional WIP blurb for LOVE BLIND:

Hailey was fifteen when she met Kyle. Fifteen with a beautiful voice, two adoring moms, and eyes that never worked quite right. Eyes that got worse every year.

Kyle was sixteen when he met Hailey. Sixteen, painfully shy, and plagued by constant thoughts of how messed up his life was—with his mom, with his one friend.

Then Hailey told Kyle about her list: a catalogue of all of the things she feared. She wanted to cross them off before the end of high school. She insisted Kyle write a list of his own, and he couldn't tell her no.

For a while it was good, sort of. An odd friendship, but one they both counted on, and then it began to change into more. Until it started to crack.

But still, they had their lists. A tentative connection that held them together when nothing else did.

Hailey was seventeen when she lost Kyle. Seventeen and in love with a boy who’d become her best friend. A boy who left behind all the things he could never say to her as an unfinished task on his list.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interviewing the Teen Boy AGAIN...

You all have been waiting for it and now, at last, my teen boy beta comes out of cyberspace for another interview. But first, I wanted to share with you the adorableness that I received in the mail yesterday from one of my teen girl betas, Brooke:
I love fan mail. Especially when it's written in 5 different colors!
And now, on to the interview. 

1. Did you see the Hunger Games? Did you like it?

I did see Hunger Games. It kinda seemed like a chick flick, which was weird because I was with a group of guys. It was still pretty good though.
(Christa side note: *shakes head* Chick flick? Really?)

2. Have you ever seen a movie that was a book first that made you want to read it?

I did see 21 which gave me the desire to read Bringing Down the House. I usually don't want to read the book after I watch the movie though.

3. Do you see yourself reading as an adult? Do your mom and dad read? 

Yeah I'm sure that I'll read when I'm an adult. Both of my parents do read. My mom reads every night, while on the other hand my dad has these random binge reading days that usually occur during vacations.

4. Would the length of a book ever determine if you read it or not? (too long or too short?)

No, the length of the book doesn't really come into play for me.

5. Do you or any of your friends ever read/write blogs? (mine doesn't count)

I do not have any friends that write blogs. My sister had one when she went to school abroad. 

6. Do any of your friends use Twitter or Tumblr?

Yes, a lot of my friends have Twitter, but I don't think any of them have Tumblr.

7. What's your favorite book from your childhood?

My favorite book from when I was a kid would have to be Bored Nothing to Do or Captain Underpants.
(Christa side note: My 7yo son loved both of these!) 

8. What do you think of timeline FB?

I switched to timeline and tried looking at how to switch back. I'm not a big fan of it. I mostly found comments saying that its permanent. 

9. Do you like spoken word poetry?

I haven't really heard any spoken word poetry unless you count rap.
(Christa side note: Jonny! Invite this kid to one of your shows.)

10. What do you think of when you think of a feminist?

This was kind of tough. Usually the first thing that comes to mind are the extreme feminists, but I know that there are the women who just push for women's rights. I feel like most people believe in equal rights, but don't go out of the way to enforce them.

Thank you so much to my awesome teen boy beta for dropping by once again. It is so so fun to have you stop by the blog. I hope even when you go to college next year (!) that you'll still be up for my funny questions. I happen to know that my young friend does read these comments so feel free to ask him anything or respond to any of the above:)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Survival is my revolution"

The title of this post is one of the lines of poetry from the Sexual Assault Awareness Month "Enemies of Silence" event. I love the line because it made me think of how incredible it is what some people can do with past sexual trauma. How they can turn it into anger and beauty and power and art and change. And then I also realized not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes the only thing people can do is survive. That is a revolution in itself. 

So obviously, last night's event was AMAZING. Also super intense. So many amazing women performing. Honestly, there were several times when I thought, "What the heck am I doing here?" Particularly when I realized that most of the performers were formidable poets, writers and performers ALL THE TIME. Like this is what they DO. 

Me: Hi, I'm Christa. I wrote this book. It's coming out next fall.
Woman 1: I'm Kristiana Colon. It's nice to meet you.
(moments later)
MC of the evening: Our first performer is Kristiana Colon. You've probably seen her on Def Poetry Jam or heard her on WBEZ. She's a poet, playwright, holds an MFA from The Art Institute of Chicago, is published in several anthologies and her latest awards include...

"I wrote this book"---> Yes, this is the Christa equivalent of "I carried a watermelon"

The entire night was filled with these formidable women, including: Misty De Berry, KrisDeLaRash, Lani Montreal, The Pow-Wow performing artists, etc. 

BUT, in spite of my misgiving about reading (thank goodness for all those theater classes), the night went really well. I had several friends in the audience (thank you everyone!) and only my legs shook when I read from TRAINWRECK. 

And it got me more invigorated and excited about the book. It got me excited about the next Voices and Faces Testimonial Writing Workshop in the fall. I got to see one of the survivors who was in the workshop with me (Sarah Sullivan). She's started this amazing group called Threads of Compassion where she and others knit scarves to give to rape victims in hospital ERs. Talk about using something you are good at and turning it into awesome.

At the end of the night, one of the women read a poem she wrote to her daughter. It moved me so much because it talked about all the deeply complicated messages that we give to our girls about rape and what they "have" to do to protect themselves. (don't wear bikinis, you can't sleepover at that girl's house, don't sit like that, etc.). She talked about how we give them these messages so that if anything bad ever happens, they won't be shamed. Because if anything bad happens, they will be asked: what were you wearing, how much had you been drinking, who were you hanging out with, etc. One line of her poem, "My shaming is your shield," left me undone. Kicked me in the gut and made me realize that yes, this is the culture that our girls are inheriting.

I have much more to say, but will leave it at this: I am so grateful to those there. So grateful for all your supportive words. So grateful to have been included in this evening. And also, so grateful to Mike Happ who actually got me to the right place:)