Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Pettybone!

I know I already have 3 contests running through the end of the week (and you can get all those details here) and that I said I was gonna take a bit of a blog hiatus (and I still might next month to get myself organized and on track), but I won't ever stop bringing you women who rock when I find them. I just might not do it as frequently until I get a bit more time. (It's crazy how much time it actually *does* take to find cool gals, beg them for an interview, write the interview q's, prep the blog post, pick a winner, etc.) But I had to bring you the amazing band Pettybone. Yep, that's right. A BAND! I know I've been doing a lot of authors lately because those are the women I know, but you know I think women who play rock n' roll are goddesses and Pettybone is so freakin' energizing and inspiring that I had to share them with you. I mean their new album "From Desperate Times Comes Radical Minds" has been described as having "a sound that grabs hold of you and draws you right in by the guts. With combining influences stemming from DC punk, blues, 80s & 90s hardcore and Riot Grrl, their mix is eclectic and the songs passionate."

‘Bands this exciting come along once every blue moon’– Terrorizer July 2011

'At their tamest they sound like the ever-volatile Gallows, but often careen into even darker, heavier & faster territory' – Kerrang 2011

'These lasses are the ones to watch' - Metal Hammer 2011

So, shall we meet them?

I caught up with bassist Lianna right after their tour and here's what we talked about.

Q: When did you start playing music? What inspired you? A certain musician, family member, teacher or friend? Who are some of your biggest musical influences (especially the women since it's Women Who Rock Wednesday, but men too!)?

Lianna: I started playing music when I was first school so around about 8 (I played clarinet) However I didn't want to play the clarinet I wanted to play the guitar but our music tutor thought I would be 'more suited' to the clarinet. Hopwever as soon as I hit high school I saved every penny I could until I could get my first electric guitar... and I have never looked back since, although I am a bass player now ;) For me, the music, that changed. I always wanted to play guitar because I saw these bands live, David Bowie, etc., and I thought wow! I want to do that. It was always very male oriented. Then I was given the record Bikini Kill – "Pussy Whipped." I had been listening to punk / Rock music for a while but I was looking for this to vent about the way I felt being a female who was into the alternative culture and mind set. I was just smoovered with boy laden alpha-male hardcore… Then an ex BF of mine gave me this record and it completely changed my life. The aggression they had, the realness and something I could completely relate to. Everything fell into place from there. The lyrics… I had finally found someone who was speaking my language. For me I think Bikini Kill are one of my main / biggest influences.

Q: Tell us about Pettybone. Who plays what? When and how did you all come together? And how did you come up with that fabulous name?

Lianna: Amy - Vox, Ivona - Guitar, Zel - Drums and myself Lianna I play bass. We had all played in other bands in the UK & Ivona had see us came with this idea for a band... She contacted us all and it all went from there really... The name Pettybone came from Ivona after reading the bible of the punk rock, Get in the Van with Black Flag and Pettibon’s images really struck her because they are shocking and provocative. Ivona changed Pettibon to Pettybone to differentiate from the artist and it gives it a much more femine twist ;)

Q: You have a new album out, FROM DESPERATE TIMES COMES RADICAL MINDS? Please share a link of where we can buy it and the best place to hear your music. How would you describe your sound? Are there one or two tracks on there that are your favorites (tough choice, I know! Even for me as a listener) or that you think stand out as definitive Pettybone songs? Tell us about them.

Lianna: to hear some tracks & the best place to buy it is

I would always describe our sound as 'The Sound Of The Revolt' You can take what you want from that really and interpret it in anyway you would like... Leaves less boundaries on what our music sounds like.

Two fave tracks? Hard one! A lot of our songs are pretty different. A really like a few of the new songs were working on at the moment but from the album I like best C.O.W which nearly never got recorded… It was a very last minuet decision to put it on there… The name was inspired by Lydia Lunch's spoken world performance. A bit of agitation song ;) that urges women to come together and create culture and space for themselves rather than trying to fit into the male dominated world/culture. Conspiracy of Women starts where the Riot Grrrls left off. It's also Ivona's blog. Bass playing wise for me, it’s Breaking Away… It has some serious groove and I think it establishes my kind of style of bass playing. Also Northern Line I like the contrast of very soft pixie-like then very heavy build up. But its hard to pick two! I like all of our songs… another very notable song is Pettybone as it’s our manifesto.

Q: What was the recording process for your album like?

Lianna: It went amazingly well. We recorded an album in pretty much 2 days… Pretty insane. And it sounds amazing! We just went in and nailed all the parts in this manic storm, then left... We had Sam Thredder of Cros Nest record us in the UK and Kurt Ballou of God City mix us and record a “secret track” in Boston ;) We are all so happy with the outcome and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Q: Are you touring at all? If so, share dates. What do you like most about playing live?

Lianna: We have just got off the back of a Euro tour today which was pretty insane! We are just about to announce some other dates in the UK at the end of November with Retox & a few other special shows... So keep your eyes peeled to our sites. We will hopefully be hitting stateside March time, so watch out. You can never get any feeling like the feeling when you play live... it's just an intense way to let out all your feelings.

Q: I have two standard questions for my Women Who Rock. The first is a two-parter: What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

Lianna: The first album I bought? I remember the single - It was Mr Blobby - The Blobby song. HAHA However with album I just used to knick them off my mum & family. The first concert I attended, a big one? I went to loads of pub gigs with my mum however we lived quite near wemberly arena so I think my first big one was boyzone... :s HAHAHA

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Lianna: Rock star treatment? Well I guess on the euro tour we had this guy waiting for us in Budapest who had a picture of us to sign and knew all our names... I was like woah!

Today's Contest:

After hearing more about it, I'm guessing you want to hear Pettybone and you are in luck! Lianna is offering up a free download of one track!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about Pettybone
+5 for blogging about Pettybone

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

Since this is a download, it is most definitely open internationally!

Since I'm going on blog hiatus, please be sure to leave an email address or way to contact you. I will be drawing the winner on October 12.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dudes, there are CONTESTS!

Holy crap guys, I am running three, that is right THREE contests this week. Two were set to end on the 28th and one on the 30th, but I have decided that's a bit silly isn't, so how about they all run through Friday the 30th. Soooooo PLEASE ENTER!

Here they are:

Contest #1: Spread the word about ROOKIE and DEAR BULLY and you could win a boatload of stuff! Signed copies of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, BALLADS, and DEAR BULLY (well that one will only be signed by me, sorry I can't get the more exciting authors, but you will at least get to read their essays!) PLUS copies of my zines PLUS the lovely Karen Mahoney is giving up a signed copy of THE IRON WITCH. Yeah, that is a lot of prizes. Find out the details and enter here.

Contest #2: Win Patricia Ann McNair's TEMPLE OF AIR. This book rocks. Patty rocks. She was one of my best professors. She is super cool. Learn about it and win it here.

Contest #3 Win the ENTHRALLED anthology. Jeri Smith-Ready is putting this up for grabs and you can learn about it here and read an interview with Logan Keeley as it is his story that Jeri tells in ENTHRALLED.

I'm actually kinda sorta bummed that the entries are so low in these contests. (Well, except for the ENTHRALLED contest. You guys are very excited about that one.) But that means everyone who enters has a really good chance to win, so pretty please enter?

I'm pondering taking a blog and contest hiatus because it seems none of my contests and blog posts have gotten as many comments as usual lately. Maybe it's just an end of summer/beginning of school thing and much like traffic at the bar where I work is down, so is blog traffic? Though, I think this is partially my fault because I took that blog hiatus around this time last year and maybe it never recovered. Or I'm boring cause I haven't had a book out in a while (sorry, working on that!) or I'm too terribly long-winded (again, apologies, can't help that). So maybe that means it would be really dumb to take another hiatus, but the fact is that I'm spread INSANELY thin right now between teaching, writing for ROOKIE, writing fiction, bartending, group blogging, and maybe sometimes occasionally wanting to spend time with my loved ones so something has to give and since it doesn't seem like there is much interest on this blog anymore it might be this. But I dunno. I've said this before and I've always come back because this is my outlet.... However, I think ROOKIE is becoming more and more outlet for memory/essay/dish on my teen self type things. And I wonder if the whole interview/contest thing is done too many other places so that is why there is less interest. So that leaves me with writing life type stuff which I may keep blogging about here, but that too seems to be covered in a lot of other places maybe better than I can do. Then I've got my muses and inspirations, music I love etc, but that might be better suited for my new tumblr....

So yeah, I'm just not sure. This blog might have to take a backseat for a bit again for better or for worse. I'm sure I'll have the overwhelming urge to babble about something so it's not like it will completely disappear. Then once my life feels a bit less chaotic hopefully I can figure out what its purpose should be and give it a better direction that will interest you all again. As usual if you have insights, please do share. And then just please, enter those contests. I'd rather go on hiatus with bang rather than a whimper. And I just want to see if you still do like contests!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Because you know I had to do it... My Tribute to Nevermind

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind album. It’s making me quite nostalgic (though who are we kidding, nostalgia could be my middle name) and it’s also making feel a little bit old. (20 years, really? TWENTY years?) Those of you who read my blog regularly know that Nirvana is my favorite band. In fact, seeing as I have the super deluxe 4 disc edition of Nevermind on pre-order as well as the 4-LP vinyl version, you might even call me an obsessed superfan. What can I say? Nirvana had the single biggest influence on my life besides my mom. And that’s why I have to pay tribute to Nevermind, too. I know that all of the big music magazines and that TV channel that actually played music videos twenty years ago have already covered it pretty well. They’ve divulged any long-lost photos, videos, and trivia factoids related to Nevermind and had a lot of people who are way more famous and important than me talk about how it changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll, shaped an entire generation, etc. I’m no music critic, historian or musician, so I want to take a different perspective and talk about how Nevermind and Nirvana in general changed a twelve year-old girl from Oak Park, Illinois, and went on to shape her life.

I didn’t buy Nevermind the first day it came out. I actually heard Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, first. Not because I was the coolest twelve year-old ever… I just happened to be friends with a really cool twelve year-old. My friend Kendra watched a lot of MTV. She introduced me to the glories of MTV when we met during the summer between fourth and fifth grade while our brothers were playing on the same tee-ball team. We’d watch their ballgame for a while and then go down the block to her house and turn on the TV. Between all the fabulous movies I saw on HBO and all the bands I discovered on MTV that summer, I bugged my parents until they finally broke down and got cable. Still, unlike Kendra, it was rare that I got to stay up late and watch 120 Minutes. She also just seemed to know about stuff first. That’s why she was the cool friend.

I was in her room one day when she told me she’d heard about this band Nirvana and they were supposed to have a new album out, but all she could find was this other album. I’m not the best at remembering exact time periods from before high school (I really don’t know why my memory from before the age of fourteen is so hazy), so I’m not sure if this was actually before Nevermind came out hence she could only find Bleach or if Nevermind was out, but our record store, like many in the country, didn’t have it because DGC hadn’t expected it to launch into the stratosphere and had only made so many copies. All I know is that Kendra seemed a bit uncertain about the band she was about to play for me, but she put on side B of the Bleach cassette, I heard “Negative Creep” for the first time and my mind was totally fucking blown. I describe that experience in more detail in an essay I wrote after another anniversary—the ten-year anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. You can read that here if you wish.

Kendra wasn’t as impressed as I was with Nirvana. As I recall, she much preferred the Living Colour tape she’d just gotten, but I adored that Nirvana tape. I got my own as soon as I could. I also started seeing the music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” shortly thereafter. I can’t remember my first viewing of it because I’d already had my mind blown by the band, so I wasn’t shocked out of my skull by that killer riff or anything. The thing that really caught my eye was the foot tapping along to the killer riff at beginning of the video. That foot was encased in a black hightop Converse sneaker. I was delighted by this because I also wore black Converse hightops, but since the footwear of choice among girls at my junior high was those little white (and, in my opinion, extremely boring) Keds, I got mocked constantly for wearing them. You see 1991 would have been Converse salesman Chuck Taylor’s 90th birthday, so there was an ad campaign with the slogan, “Happy Birthday, Chuck!” which is what douchey popular crowd at school would scream at me every time we passed in the hall. I’m not sure why it was supposed to be an insult, but the laughter that always followed made it clear that it was. So seeing *my* shoe in the Nirvana video made me feel less alone. I watched the audience in the video more than the band. I picked out a girl who had her head shaved except for her bangs and hoped that one day, maybe when I got to high school, I’d find people like her. Wearing Converse and clothes I liked as opposed to what was considered normal was a new thing for me and Nirvana gave me the strength to continue expressing myself.

Since I was a broke-ass twelve year-old, I didn’t actually buy Nevermind until after their Saturday Night Live appearance in January of 1992. My best friend Juliet and I were housesitting for her former kindergarten teacher, who was a close friend of Juliet’s grandmother. It seems astounding that we got permission to spend the night alone in a house, but I guess at that age our idea of living on the edge was eating a lot of sugar and staying up all night, so it was okay. Also we’d recently gotten news that earth-shattering news: Juliet’s grandmother had been diagnosed with lung cancer and soon would no longer be able to care for Juliet, so over she was going to be sent to live with her aunt in Rockford before eighth grade started. I’d known Juliet since I’d moved to Oak Park in third grade. We’d spent much of elementary school trying and failing to fit in with those Keds-sneaker-wearing popular girls, but somehow they innately sensed that we weren’t cool enough. We’d given up toward the end of sixth grade and embraced our inner weirdo—literally, we even started the “weirdo religion.” We dressed how we wanted and spent hours watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and not caring if it was cool. We were constantly at each other’s houses. Juliet was like my sister and her grandmother was like my grandmother. It was bad enough that when we got to junior high, we were put on two different “teams” meaning our classes would never overlap, but for Juliet to move nearly two hours away meaning that we couldn’t watch Star Trek together every night…. It was the end of the world for us and Juliet’s grandmother and my mom knew it, so we were granted permission to stay the weekend alone in this house that reeked of the kindergarten teacher’s husband’s cologne. I swear someone must have spilled it down the heating ducts because it was so strong that twenty years later I still gag when I catch a whiff of Old Spice.

If we’d been given free reign of an empty house for a weekend two years after this, there would have boys and drugs involved for sure, but we simply popped some microwave popcorn (which briefly covered up the Old Spice stink) and settled in to watch SNL. Kurt Cobain had dyed his hair with KoolAid so it looked reddish-pink, which was pretty cool, and they played “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which I liked but had heard a few too many times. And then they came back the second time and Krist Novoselic, their giant of a bass player, howled the opening of this old hippie song that I’d heard via my parents and my own obsession with the Billboard sixties collections before the band burned their way through “Territorial Pissings,” a song I immediately loved as much as everything off of Bleach. When they finished, they smashed up their instruments and the Saturday Night Live stage. I watched, my mouth hanging open. Nothing had ever expressed what I felt on the inside more than that moment. But then as I turned to Juliet to tell her how fucking awesome I thought that was, she spat in disgust, “What are they doing? That’s so stupid! Why are they breaking everything? All that stuff is probably really expensive.”

And it probably was. And it was a little wasteful and dumb in that regard, but clearly they did it because they had some pent-up rage and we had some pent-up rage and I wasn’t sure why Juliet didn’t get that. I didn’t like disagreeing with her though. Ever since finding out she was moving, Juliet had been getting especially upset about it when I disagreed with her or did things like choosing stage crew over gymnastics ever and I got why: we were changing and once there was physical distance between us, we might completely grow apart, which was completely fucking terrifying.

So I bought Nevermind secretly. On cassette tape because I didn’t have a CD player yet. I listened to it on my Walkman obsessively throughout the following summer and eighth grade whenever I was feeling alienated or stupid and contagious or whatever. In Rockford, Juliet discovered that other Seattle band, Pearl Jam and I forced myself to like them too, but deep down though I thought Eddie Vedder was cute, I didn’t like his voice at all and the music behind him didn’t impress me at all. But Nirvana, something about those angry riffs reflected me perfectly and Kurt Cobain’s lyrics which I figured out in pieces spoke directly to my heart.

“It amazes me, the will of instinct,” he sang on “Polly” and I repeated to myself every time I felt trapped or beaten down by my nasty junior high world.

“Love myself better than you,” he sang on “On A Plain” and I was trying, oh god was I trying. To love myself, to be myself, to be as brave as that scrawny, scruffy blond guy who danced around in a dress in my favorite Nevermind video, “In Bloom.” No doubt, he’d taken a lot of shit in junior high and I could, too.

I finally got a new stereo with a CD player for 8th grade graduation, and in addition to albums by Fishbone and a Metallica, Nevermind rounded out my very first CD purchase. My Nevermind tape had completely worn out. Nirvana was officially my favorite band as I started high school, but I was almost resentful of the way “grunge” and “alternative” had exploded because suddenly the same people who’d made fun of my Converse sneakers and thrift store clothing were wearing them (though usually their clothes just had at thrift-store look, but came from the mall). I continued to dig deeper into the indie and punk scenes, discovering bands like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, and Bikini Kill because Nirvana mentioned them in interviews. I did buy In Utero on the very day it was released and I begged my parents for permission to see Nirvana on their 1993 tour at the Aragon in Chicago, but they didn’t want me going out on a school night. “You can see them next time,” they promised me and since it was rumored that they’d be headline Lollapalooza in the summer, I took comfort in that. Of course as it turned out, I would never see my favorite band live.

I’m teaching a Young Adult Fiction class at Columbia College Chicago this fall. I took the class myself at the age of twenty-two as a student there and since it was such a great class I’ve been using a lot of my former teacher’s activities. In one of these, I asked my students to write a piece about the moment that knew they were no longer a child. I’d written this myself and chose to write about the time someone shot heroin in front of me for the first time. That was definitely a big moment, but looking back I think I went to it because it was dramatic and it was not something that would brand me as a geeky fangirl. But if I’m being honest, the moment that I was no longer a child came on Friday, April 8, 1994, during the spring of my freshman year of high school when at fourteen years-old, I found out that the man I’d come to believe understood me better than my parents and most of my friends had committed suicide.

Juliet broke the news to me in a very mocking, condescending way. They were the band that I liked and she didn’t. We had grown apart the way we both secretly feared. Also her grandmother had died almost exactly a year before then so she viewed this successful rock star who’d blown his brains out in a different light than I did. I get it now, but at the time it was devastating. Not only had this man I looked up to thrown in the towel, the girl who’d defined and made my childhood bearable was someone different now and so was I. Once again I looked at Nirvana’s audience, at the throngs of mourners who gathered in the fountain at the Seattle Center and at Viretta Park to pay tribute. I needed to find my people, my “little group” that Kurt sings about in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (or “little tribe” as he sometimes sings live, a phrase which I like even better.) So even though I was naturally shy and had always had a really hard time making friends, I screwed up my courage and went looking. That’s how I found the boy who would shoot heroin in front of me. That’s how I found the group of friends (and sometimes frenemies) at Scoville Park that would shape the rest of my teenage years. That’s how I found the boyfriend who emulated Kurt Cobain in many ways, but not in his respect for women, the boyfriend who emotionally abused me and broke me into a million little pieces. The next three years of high school were often hellish, but I did find the people who would become lifelong friends that know me better than anyone else, even myself sometimes. I could (and have and will probably continue to for Rookie!) write several essays/blogs about the ways I fucked up during those years, but I don’t regret any of it because it brought me to the place where I discovered the stories I needed to tell and once again, Nirvana was there to give me the strength to tell them.

Ten years after Kurt Cobain’s death, I went to Seattle. Again, my journey is detailed here, but it took me a few more years to figure out why I needed that journey so badly. I went off the rails after that abusive relationship. I threw myself into drugs, then in to booze and along with it a codependent unhealthy relationship that last from the end of high school into my early twenties. Then I started listening to Nirvana again. Obsessively. This is when all the vinyl and bootleg collecting started. I listened to those songs hundreds and thousands of time and I slowly rebuilt myself.

“It amazes me the will of instinct.” The instinct to break the cycle, to write instead of cut or get drunk.

“Love myself better than you.” I finally did. In Viretta Park, the place I wanted to be at fourteen, but didn’t find my way to until twenty-four. But there I was, able to make sense of my past, to take it all in, to love myself, to survive. Kurt may not have had the strength to do so himself, but I found it in his music. And that to me is what makes Nirvana and Nevermind so great.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guys Rock Too Thursday!: Logan Keeley (from Jeri Smith-Ready's SHADE trilogy)

Welcome to a very special Guys Rock Too Thursday. Today is a highlight for me because I got to interview Logan Keeley, who you may know from Jeri Smith-Ready's SHADE trilogy. In the new anthology ENTHRALLED, Logan got the chance to tell a story from his side, which I've had the privilege to read before release (I've read an early draft of SHINE too and it is AWESOME!!!!) and I know all SHADE fans, especially the folks who are Team Logan like me, will love. Since I've talked to Aura in the past, I thought I should bring Logan to the blog to celebrate the release of his story.

Q: Please tell us what your story is about and what inspired you to write it.

LOGAN: HEY! Thanks for having me. You have a very, VERY cool blog.

Inspiration? I was dying for the chance to tell my story. See, the SHADE novels are told from Aura’s point-of-view. Since I really hurt Aura by, you know, DYING, I worry sometimes that I don’t come off so hot. And this part of my life—making up with my brother Mickey—was super important to me. There was no way I’d ever be able to pass on if we didn’t forgive each other. I mean, it was my fault he felt so shitty about himself.

Anyway, I am SO excited for the release of “Bridge” in ENTHRALLED. No offense to the Woman Upstairs (that’s what me and Zach call Jeri), but some of those other authors in the anthology are HUGE, and my story’ll probably get read by more people than have read SHADE. So if people go ahead and read SHADE afterwards, they’ll already understand what I’m going through and hopefully won’t hate me.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your story, what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

LOGAN: I made a playlist for Aura called “Sucks to Be a Ghost (Sometimes).” It pretty much sums up a lot of my feelings about dying and losing her and feeling ignored by the world. Some of my favorites are “Thistle and Weeds” by Mumford & Sons (actually, their entire album SIGH NO MORE helped inspire the story—“The Cave”* and “Little Lion Man” make me think of Mickey), “Ready to Fall” by Rise Against, and “Movin’ On” by The Tossers.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Also, the Woman Upstairs transcribed the lyrics to “Forever,” the song I wrote for Aura right before I died. You can read them here.

Sharing that song was like peeling open my rib cage and showing all my internal organs. And it made a lot of people cry, which…well, I guess I’m better at MAKING people cry than I am at dealing with the aftermath.

*Speaking of “The Cave,” these lines just kill me when it comes to me and my brother:

I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again.

Q: Who were some of your inspirations to become a songwriter or the inspirations that keep you writing? Feel free to include other authors, teachers, parents, or people in other creative fields, whoever is an inspiration to you!

LOGAN: I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Shane McGowan of the Pogues, and of course Dave King and all of Flogging Molly. But day to day, my biggest inspirations are the people I love, Aura and my family and friends. They’re what I write ABOUT and what I write FOR.

I also get inspired by sports stars—how hard they have to work to get where they are, and how they get criticized constantly. Like, they can be the hero one week and everyone worships them, and then the next week people say they should be fired. I dunno if I could handle that much pressure without totally cracking.

At least musicians, once they hit it big, hardly ever get booed by their fans unless they show up so wasted they can’t play. So even if your music starts to suck, you just play your old stuff and people are happy. To your face, at least.

Q: Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

LOGAN: No, I need to hear my own music in my mind. Certain bands are more ear-wormy than others. Like Flogging Molly, they take FOREVER to get out of my head, and they used to keep me up at night. Listening (or rehearsing) “Devil’s Dance Floor” after 6pm was like drinking Red Bull as a bedtime snack.

Q: What is next for you? What are you working on now?

LOGAN: Hmm, I can’t tell you much without totally spoiling SHINE (or the end of SHIFT, for that matter), but right now I’m just hanging out on Twitter with my peeps. They are so amazing—they check in every day to see how I’m doing, and they ask my advice about guys. Some of them—okay, pretty much all of them—flirt with me, which is cool. I miss that kinda attention from my days with the band. Doesn’t mean I don’t still love Aura with one hundred percent of me.

Twitter’s also given me the chance to sorta bury the hatchet with my rival, Zachary Moore. It turns out he’s pretty cool. Most of the time.

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women and Guys Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our folks who rock!

LOGAN: I gotta be honest, because ghosts can’t lie! The first album I bought was EVE 6 by EVE 6. Okay, technically my mom bought it for me because I was a little kid. But I begged for it because I loved that song, “Inside Out.” I thought the part about a heart in a blender was so funny. IRONIC, NO?

(I died of ventricular fibrillation, for your readers who don’t know me. Although actually I died of stupidity.)

My first concert was Rancid. Holy CRAP, were they amazing! I’ve seen them so many times I’ve lost count. Eight, I think. Yeah, since I can’t lie, that must be right.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

LOGAN: Probably the time this little dude, maybe seven years old, recognized me in the skate shop. He was like, NO FUCKING WAY, THAT’S LOGAN KEELEY FROM THE KEELEY BROTHERS! And his mom got all mad at me, like it was my fault he screamed the word FUCK at the top of his lungs. Though I did laugh, so she probably thought I was encouraging him. But it’s freaking hilarious and cute when little kids cuss, right? She wouldn’t even let him get my autograph. It was a SKATE SHOP, for God’s sake, not a church.

Thanks for visiting us today, Logan! That was quite a fun interview and I'm sure my readers really want to get to know you now, which brings us to....


<---The Woman Upstairs (A.K.A. Jeri Smith-Ready) is giving away a copy of ENTHRALLED.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about ENTHRALLED
+5 for blogging about ENTHRALLED

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

Please note that due to shipping expenses this prize can ONLY be shipped to US addresses.

I will be drawing the winner on September 28 during my next Women Who Rock Wednesday interview!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GCC Presents: The Lowdown on DEAR BULLY

Usually when one of my girlfriends from the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit tours, we do an interview, but since Megan Kelley Hall is touring to get the word out about an anthology with tons of contributors, she just gave me the ultimate lowdown on DEAR BULLY. As you know, I contributed to this anthology and am super proud of it. So proud in fact that I'm running a big contest to spread the word about here. Tweeting about/linking to this blog post will get an entry a piece for that contest and reposting this info on your blog will get you five entries. So read on, then spread the word and enter the contest!


Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when they both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. Megan reached out to Carrie expressing her frustration with this case and the fact that bullying that seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, Megan was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing her books, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, she had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as she possibly could. When she heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, she felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of her book and into real life. She was also disheartened by the numerous times she’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, they felt that they owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying -- to make it "uncool." Megan Kelley Hall started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire "movement" to end bullying. This was the day that Megan, Carrie and other authors decided to use their platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard.

Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board of this cause -- wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group jumped from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and Megan were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.

The stories in DEAR BULLY come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional. All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it's not a rite of passage. It doesn't make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of. Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure--at least, not by themselves.

Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past.

Don't forget to join the Facebook page at, visit the website at, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter at

“FIGHT BACK WITH WORDS. Better Homes & Gardens recommends DEAR BULLY: Remind youngsters heading back to school that getting picked on is tough—but that words can also heal as much as they can hurt, as one anthology proves.” – Better Homes & Gardens

“This anthology of personal essays provides empathetic and heartfelt stories from each corner of the schoolyard: the bullied, the bystander and the bully himself are all represented. Their words will be a welcome palliative or a wise pre-emptive defense against the trials of adolescent social dynamics.” --New York Times

“Two of them, both authors of novels for young adults (Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones), have drawn on the power of the written word to focus attention on the problem and offer solace to the bullied.” – --The Boston Globe

“You’ll love it if… You know someone (or are someone) who’s ever been involved in any type of bullying incident. There’s something in it for everyone, on all sides of the spectrum. You’ll love it even more if you can find a story that inspires you to help someone else.” –

“With authority often turning a blind eye and cyber-bullying rampant, this timely collection is an excellent resource, especially for group discussion, and the appended, annotated list of websites and further reading extends its usefulness.” – Booklist

“Powerful…All of these stories feel authentic and honest, and readers will find a story or a person to identify with, to look to for comfort or guidance.” School Library Journal

“Bottom line is this anthology is a terrific tool for the counselor who can customize the entries to the needs of the victimized student.” -- Harriet Klausner

“This should be required reading of ALL young girls (not to mention some adults)….Dear Bully is for everyone who has grown up in this culture where bullying takes place every day, not just in the schools, but in our streets, in our homes, our place of work (and globally).Dear Bully unveils the truth of who we are as a community of people, and it's not pretty.” – New Pages Blog

“This is why I think this book is brilliant: Much like It Get's Better, this is a situation where one generation is reaching back to support the other... When you share your story you are shining a light. You never know who is at sea and relying on that light to get them home.” – Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte “Life Under the Crown” blog

“Dear Bully is a novel that needs to be on the shelves of every school library, and in every classroom. I hope it makes its way to the hands of the bullied and the bullies.” –The Crazy Bookworm Blog

“You Can't Protect Your Kid From Bullies Until You've Done This I was about halfway through Dear Bully, a new book of essays from 70 big name teen lit authors (for my fellow YA fans, I'm talking the likes of Megan McCafferty, Alyson Noel, R.L. Stine, etc.) when it hit me. These were all grown-ups talking about some of the worst days of childhood. And almost none had kind words to say about adults.” – Jeanne Sagar, The Stir and Yahoo Shine

“70 poignant essays that will make your tear and/or cheer. There is literally something in this book for everyone. I cried, I laughed, I wanted to write a letter to my Congressman, but most of all…I learned a few things. Bullying doesn’t take one form and it can occur at any age. This is must have for every library, teacher, and anyone who owns a shelf…or a table. Be a hero and buy this book for someone who is struggling.” –I Read Banned Books Blog

“I wish there had been a Dear Bully book 14 years ago.” --Lost in the Library Blog

“I personally think that this book should be required reading for all kids in the 7th grade. I’d even be so bold as to say a compilation for younger kids should be written as well.” --Confessions of a Real Librarian Blog

“This collection is so important and it couldn't come at a better time. This book should be in every administrator's office (their predecessor's failing to address this issue is a common thread woven through the experiences shaed), every media specialist's office, every counselor's office, and in the classroom libraries of every teacher works with these students who stories have not been told. . .yet. Here is the catalyst for discussion. Here are the authors saying, "It happened to me too. . .tell me your story." --Paul Hankins

“EVERY ADULT who works with tweens and teens should read this!” - Sandy

“Once I get the library's budget, this is going to be top of the list - and I'm buying two copies. I want to have one copy on the professional shelf for the teachers to look at and one on the shelf for the students to take out.” - Sarah

“This is a valuable look at how bullying shapes the lives of both the bullies and the bullied.” - Sarah

“Absolutely fantastic. Heart-wrenching and a reality check for anyone believing that this doesn't happen. I'm recommending this to every librarian I know to put this on the shelf.” - Maya

“What a beautiful, amazing, honest, important book. Five stars isn't near enough to show my love for Dear Bully. I'll be donating my copy to my old junior high.” - Colleen

“I knew I would enjoy this book, I just didn't think it would impact me as much as it did. I wish this could be in every middle and high school in the country.” - Stephanie

“I wish I could individually hug everyone who has ever been bullied. Seeing as how that mission is too tragically expansive to take on, I will settle for shouting, "Bravo!" to all the authors to contributed, and to HarperTeen for publishing this anthology. "Encore!" – Gabrielle Carolina

“Amazing anthology of stories about bullying (victimization, perpetration, being a bystander). I mean, what can I say? This collection moved me beyond words. Teachers, parents, and librarians NEED to share this book with their teens. Core title for all teen/ya collections.” - Lalitha

“It's another stark reminder that kids can't do this on their own. They need our help. Thank you to all 70 of these authors and Megan and Carrie for helping me not only set to rest my own past but to chart a path for my future as a mother.” – Jeanne Sagar, Goodreads

“These writers have taken a stand. It's time for all of us to do so as well.” - Jackie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Patricia Ann McNair

Hey guys, I know it has been quiet on the blog lately, but that's because I've been so busy with ROOKIE! I hope you all are loving it as much as I do and don't forget that there is a contest surrounding it and DEAR BULLY which runs until the end of the month. It's really (sadly!) low on entries, so check it out because you have a good chance to win!

I have a really awesome interview for you today. I love each and every Woman Who Rocks that I bring you, but Patricia Ann McNair--or simply Patty as I've known her for the past eleven years or so--is extra special because she is one of those women that would go in my list of inspirations and people I wouldn't be a writer without. When I went back to college at 21, pursuing my BA (and eventually my MFA) at Columbia College Chicago, she was one of my professors in my very first semester. She taught a class called Fiction Writers & Censorship, which totally set me free. I wouldn't be able to write what I do without her. She was also there toward the very end of my time at Columbia and taught my thesis development class when I was putting finishing touches on the first draft (or maybe it was second... my drafts blur) of the book that would become I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. Again, I wouldn't be the writer I am without her input and guidance. And she wouldn't be a stellar writing teacher if she wasn't a stellar writer, so I am extremely excited about the release of her book THE TEMPLE OF AIR. It is my honor to bring her here today to talk about it, so let's meet Ms. Patty McNair, shall we?

Q: Tell us about your new collection of short stories, THE TEMPLE OF AIR. How long did it take for this collection to come together and what are some of the common themes? Also tell us about some of your favorite characters and what inspired you to write them.

Patty: THE TEMPLE OF AIR was a long time in the making, Stephanie. The first story that was published was “The Joke,” and that was in the 1990s. Now, I didn’t know that it was part of a collection, but as happens, you start to write a few stories here and there, and then things start to surface: similar characters, a familiar place—in this case a fictional Midwestern small town called New Hope. What started to emerge for me first, probably, were these voices of young girls and women. A number of the stories feature teen-aged girls who find themselves caught in situations beyond their control—witness to an accident, part of a broken family, facing—literally—a coming storm. While these stories are set mostly in the seventies, many of the situations the girls (and boys and men) encounter are important now. The devastation of war, parents looking for work, encountering the homeless.

I am drawn to writing about young women of a certain age: fifteen or thereabouts. Perhaps because my own father died when I was just fifteen, and it had a lasting effect on who I became as a woman. That age is so precarious and important. Young women know so much then, but also have so much ahead of themselves to experience and learn. They are discovering or rejecting or experimenting with everything out there—religion, sex, drugs. Life. Some of my favorite characters here are Nova—the girl in the very first story who is shaken and shaped by an accident that starts the book off (she appears later in the collection as well); Rennie, a girl whose mother has an eating disorder and a weird religious belief; Christie who gets stuck baby-sitting a girl with special needs over the course of a summer; and a high school senior who doesn’t tell us her name and who is helpless when her best guy friend is drafted into the army. There are adults here, too, and men of course. A young man who is caught in a bizarre way when he tries to rob an ice cream parlor; the twins who own the ice cream parlor and are on the run for their own crimes; a gorgeous blond boy named Sky who is more bad than good, a father who loses his daughter.

Q. I also love place as a character and I know that you are a travel writer in addition to writing short stories, so can you talk a bit about the use of place in your work? The small town in THE TEMPLE OF AIR is called New Hope. Is it based on a real place? Tell us about how you developed it.

Patty: I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, but since I was a kid, my folks took us on some pretty great trips: Jamaica, Spain, Portugal, a long camping trip throughout the American West. I guess that started my affinity for place. I love maps and travel books and I love to travel. To me, being somewhere else is the best way to figure out where I come from. Does that make sense?

Anyway, my grandparents lived in small towns and farming communities, so we also spent a lot of time in rural areas. I really loved those places. The way everyone knew each other, how everyone walked everywhere, said hello to each other. And later, I went to school in Iowa and stayed there for some years after. I’ve also spent some time in other small, Midwestern places: Interlochen, Michigan; Siren, Wisconsin; Mount Carroll, Illinois. So New Hope is a sort of composite of these towns in the middle of America. A little bit of the plains, a little of the rolling river towns, some of the small lakes, a tornado alley. Like you in your first book, Stephanie, I wanted to use a place where it would be hard to go entirely unnoticed, a place where people knew your business at least a little. New Hope isn’t a tiny town, but small enough that the people who live there might get antsy within its limits, and also a place they might come to if they were trying to escape the life of a city.

Q: If THE TEMPLE OF AIR had a soundtrack, what are five of the songs that would be on it and why?

Patty: What an interesting question. Hmmm. There are probably lots of ways to answer this, but here goes:

1. Jimi Hendrix: “All Along the Watchtower”
2. Cat Stevens: “Wild World”

These first two because they evoke a feeling from the time the book starts (late sixties, early seventies.) The Vietnam war was going on, and the people in the stories who were growing up in New Hope would probably listen to something intense like Jimi Hendrix (psychedelic, sophisticated in its riffs) when they were
home or in small groups. And Cat Stevens’ sentiment about the wild world pretty much sums up what was going on for these young people.

3. Steve Miller: “The Joker”

I just heard this song on the radio the other day and thought it had to be on this list. It’s a song I remember so vividly from my own life at the time of when the book is set. We’d sing it at the top of our lungs, thinking we were getting away with something yelling out “I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker” and “really love your peaches, want to shake your tree.” Pretty tame stuff compared with lyrics today, but we thought we were clever and subversive then, speaking a language our parents weren’t supposed to understand. And I think my characters would feel that way, too.

4. Donna Summer: “Bad Girls”

The stories move into the disco era, and some of the women in the stories take on a certain reckless pursuit of good times.

5. The Wallflowers: “One Headlight”

This song falls out of the time span of the novel, but it is one I played a lot while I was writing some of the stories. It has a sweet, rural feel to it, a lush sound that makes me think of what the stories’ landscape is like. A loneliness, a quiet, rich darkness.

Q: Who are some of the people that inspired you to become a writer or keep writing? Since it is Women Who Rock Wednesday, we particularly love to hear about the women, but feel free to include men too.

A: I loved books by Madeline L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and S. E. Hinton (The Outsiders, etc.) when I was a kid. Women writers, both. Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Allison, Bonnie Jo Campbell, all women whose work makes me want to write. And I hope you don’t mind my saying this, Stephanie, but women like you, who have been my students and who show me how they had the strength and tenacity it takes to keep the writing going despite other obligations, have been such an inspiration. You guys (gals) make me take the work seriously. And lucky me, my husband, the artist Philip Hartigan, gives me such inspiration and support. He works so hard at his own craft, I have to work at mine in order to keep up.

But the most important person is my mom, who died a few years ago. She was a travel writer herself and got me writing gigs early on. On summer days when I was a little kid, she used to give me writing prompts and would expect me to have a story written by the time she got home from work. I loved that. And she told me that she chose my name—Patricia Ann McNair—by imagining what it would look like on the cover a book. I mean, come on! How could I not be a writer with that sort of juju?

Q: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

Patty: What’s on my desk at the moment is a novel-in-progress that also takes place in New Hope. It has a working title that shifts now and again, but today it is called “Climbing the House of God Hill.” It’s a story about a fifteen-year-old girl (huh, imagine that!) who is homeschooled and who gets mixed up in a scandal in town that involves an older man (who also happens to be an immigrant and a father of seven kids), and a friend of her own father who is a member of the church, and her stepmother. It’s a complicated plot right now, but I am hopeful that it will begin to both untangle and deepen the more I write.

Q: I have two standard questions for my women who rock. The first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge :)

Patty: My first album Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. (Okay, now you know how old I am.) I remember it cost 3.99 (or was it 2.99?) at KMart. I came home and played it over and over and over again. I had such a huge crush on Michael Jackson who was just my age. We had this big picture window that was like a mirror when the sun went down, and I would dance in front of it to the album and pretend I was the sixth Jackson, a token white girl.

My first concert was Chicago, with the Pointer Sisters opening. No one knew who they were (The Pointer Sisters) at the time, and so they were practically booed off the stage. I was there for Chicago like everyone else, but I remember thinking that the women were pretty good, and we’d hear from them again. I was too young to get there on my own; my brother had to take me and some girlfriends. We tried to lose him at the concert, though, so we could meet guys.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Patty: It’s gotta be the launch party for my book just this past Friday. I read at Women and Children First, a bookstore I have always hoped to see my book in some day, and it was so great.

I got there a little early, and at the time, there were only about eight people there, two of them friends of my mom’s, one my own brother, a couple of colleagues, some random shoppers. I knew that the bookstore had ordered a load of books, upping their order a couple of times because they were expecting a lot of people. I was worried that it would be a total flop, that they’d hardly sell anything, that no one would come. Do you ever get over this feeling.

Well, little by little the place started to fill up. Soon it was standing room only, folks in all the chairs and stuffed in all the way to the front windows of the store. And the door kept opening. I could see faces of people I knew were there to support me all the way in the back of the crowd. And when Kathie Bergquist, a Woman Who Most Definitely Rocks, introduced me, the crowd actually cheered! Holy shit!

And no one left in the middle of things, and the book-signing line went on forever it seemed, past closing time for the bookstore. And they sold pretty much every book of mine in the store, even pulling the display one out of the window.

I think that must be what it feels like to be a rock star. Excited, listened to, enjoyed, humbled. And lucky. So very, very lucky.

Thanks for doing this, Patty. I am honored to have you and thanks for the shout-out. I'm glad I can be an inspiration to you too, since you have been such a big one to me.

Today's Contest:

After hearing more about it, I'm guessing you want THE TEMPLE OF AIR and you are in luck! Patty is offering up a a signed copy of it!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about THE TEMPLE OF AIR
+5 for blogging about THE TEMPLE OF AIR

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

Please note that due to shipping expenses this prize can ONLY be shipped to US/Canada addresses.

I will be drawing the winner on September 28 during my next Women Who Rock Wednesday interview!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Launch week for my Super Sekrit Project (and one you already knew about)

Before I wrote novels (or short stories that would become novel material as my short stories tend to do), I wrote 'zines. When I talk about why I write YA, I often say that I do so because there weren't a lot of really good YA books that told the kind of stories I needed/wanted to read. One of the few things that gave me a voice as a teenager was Sassy magazine, but even that faded out of existence during my the middle of high school when I needed it the most. My life might have been a little easier or at least made more sense if Sassy had continued, but fortunately it inspired and motivated me to write about the changes that I wanted to see in the world. It was my guiding force at sixteen along with bands like Bratmobile (who I discovered through Sassy) and Bikini Kill who made their own 'zines and were involved with a movement called Riot Grrrl that I desperately wanted to be a part of after reading about it in an amazing book (that sadly is out of print) called GIRL POWER by Hillary Carlip.

I teamed up with my three best friends and wrote a feminist 'zine called Kill Supermodels, which of course did not indicate actually killing supermodels, but rather the standard of beauty that it seemed only the tall, skinny, white girl could achieve. We ranted about all of the things that made the world hard for a teenage girl to live in and advocated for change, dreaming of a safer, more just and equal life for all. I used to fantasize that me and my three friends could start a real revolution right there in my bedroom, typing up our stories and creating collages and illustrations to go with them. That time period, junior year of high school, was probably the single hardest year of my life and the one beam of sunshine was doing those 'zines and the community--the girls across the country and the world that they would lead me to, some of whom remain my best friends.

I also wrote three very raw, very personal 'zines that dealt with what I was struggling with: self-injury, addiction, depression, the painful recovery from an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship, and just plain growing up and realize that the world was not what you thought it would be.

I wrote and distributed my last 'zine around my eighteenth birthday. I still have file folders with ideas for other issues, but I got distracted by college and short stories and an ugly period of self-destruction. When I got through that I focused on writing my novels, only publishing the occasional personal essay in a friend's magazine or on a website or here on my blog.

My regular blog readers probably won't be surprised that I've always wanted to do some sort of project like a big 'zine that would reach teenage girls and give them a voice the way Sassy did for me. It's been a deep down desire for years that has only gotten stronger lately. You see I don't have a daughter, but my childhood best friend had a baby girl during our senior year of high school and that little girl is now a brilliant and talented young woman who is entering high school this year. She is like my daughter, she is definitely my niece (blood does not matter there) and she is my muse. I wanted to gift her with something like Sassy because like all good parents and aunts, I want her life to be better than mine.

Then almost a year ago, I was hanging out with two my high school best friends/fellow Kill Supermodels founders and one of them asked, "Have you heard about Tavi Gevinson?" My other friend and I had not, so she went on to describe this fourteen year-old girl from our town--Oak Park, Illinois, where BALLADS OF SUBURBIA was set--who became a well-known for her fashion blog Style Rookie at the age of eleven. The more she said, the more awestruck I was of Tavi. She gave all three of us massive hope, this young teenage girl who who was letting her voice be heard and had a lot of the same beliefs in feminism and girl empowerment that we had developed as teenagers. Unlike us, she had her shit together, had a platform, and a real chance to make a difference.

A few weeks later my friend emailed me and my other friend to tell us that Tavi was planning to start a Sassy inspired magazine and would even be consulting with Jane Pratt, the woman who started. I kid you not, I almost cried when I read about it. My friend suggested that the old Kill Supermodels craw submit so we did. Last November. I practically forgot about it, but in early April, I received an email from Tavi inviting me to be a part of her online magazine, which the group of us would eventually decide to call Rookie. She said she couldn't pay, but I didn't care. I had to do it. I thought the world needs this. Today's teenage girl needs this. I needed this. Hell, I still do.

So I've been plotting and planning and writing pieces all summer with Tavi, our incredible story editor Anaheed, and the rest of Team Rookie--a bunch of fabulously talented writers and artists that I am unbelievably honored to work along side. We're creating the kind of project I wished to be a part of since I was in high school. I was not kidding last week when I tweeted that this Super Sekrit Project might be the project I am most proud of out of anything I've done, possibly even my books. I can't believe I've kept it a secret (from all but a select few) for five months. Part of me also can't even believe that it's real. But here it is.

This is ROOKIE.

I'll be writing two to three times a month for it (which has been keeping me quite busy, but is soooo worth it), mostly personal essays about the things I've grappled with as a teenager, but every now and then I'll write something fun and light about pop culture because angsty as I am, I do have a sense of humor. I'm really proud of the pieces I wrote for our first issue and will be sure to let you know when they go live. The way the site works is super cool with a new piece (some are written, some are images or multimedia) going up three different times a day, around the time people are getting home from school, around dinner time, and around that time you are supposed to be finishing your homework but are procrastinating instead. Tavi explains more about that and the site in general in her letter from the editor, which you should read here. You can also read more about how it all came together in this article that ran in the New York Times magazine. And do check out the full list of amazing contributors here.

There are already some wonderful written pieces and gorgeous visuals up, so if you have the day off today, I hope you'll spend it exploring the site. I'm also going to run a contest, which I will detail below after one more announcement.

I haven't been keeping this one secret at all. The DEAR BULLY anthology comes out tomorrow. I am one of 70 YA authors (including a bunch of huge amazing authors like Ellen Hopkins who I am truly humbled to be included with) who wrote an essay, letter, poem or comic about their experience with bullying. It's amazing, inspiring, and another project I hope will make a huge difference.

If you've read my novels, you know that silence and the need to break it to survive the painful things in life is a major them in my work and it is so because that's the hardest lesson I've ever learned. In fact I'm still learning it. I think Rookie and DEAR BULLY can play a big part and breaking the silence surrounding the hard issues and giving teens a voice. I'm insanely proud of them and I want to get the word out, so I'm gonna do a massive contest this month.

September Contest
The mission is to spread the word about Rookie and DEAR BULLY. So you will get:
+5 for writing a blog post about Rookie
+5 for writing a blog post about DEAR BULLY
+1 for following Rookie on Twitter
+1 for following DEAR BULLY on Twitter
+1 for "liking" Rookie on Facebook
+1 for "liking" DEAR BULLY on Facebook
+1 for following Rookie on Tumbler
+1 for every piece you comment on on Rookie, so that means the more pieces you read and comment on, the more entries you get
+1 for *each* tweet or facebook status update about Rookie (yes, each one, so tweet your hearts out)
+1 for *each* tweet or facebook status update about DEAR BULLY

You can record your points in your comments here (including links to tweets/status updates/blogs etc) or if it is easier to email me a big list at the end, you can do so to stephanie AT stephaniekuehnert DOT com. The deadline is September 30. I'm going out of town the day after that, so I will tally things up and announce/contact the winner on October 7th.

The prize will go to the person who has the most points (and if there is a tie, it will be decidedly randomly using a coin toss, dice roll or The prize as of now is signed copies of both of my books PLUS a copy of DEAR BULLY PLUS Karen Mahoney has also agreed to give away a signed copy of her fabulous book, The Iron Witch! I'm hoping to get some more of my author friends who are all about empowering teenagers and giving them a voice to donate prizes. Hey author friends, if you are willing to, let me know either here or via email.

Okay that's it. I hope you guys are excited not only about the contest but also about Rookie and DEAR BULLY. Please visit Rookie and tell me what you think!