Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Real Life Fury

A vigil was recently held to commemorate a “beautiful, witty, funny” – and bullied – 15-year-old girl named Audrie Pott who committed suicide last year. This happened in a high school near where I live, and when I read about the vigil, I felt unnerved and angered, a real sickness in my stomach, by the details of the tragedy. 

In my new novel, I have a scene that’s eerily similar to what happened to Audrie: A girl with a history of being bullied, a party without adult supervision, alcohol that had been laced, rape, photos taken of the horrendous event and then sent viral.

For my character Meg, the only real difference is that she willingly chooses to have sex with a longtime crush the night of her fateful party. With a brave, trusting heart, she acts out of love and normal teenage desire. But the bullies are there with their weapons – humiliation, threats, taunts and cameras.

In Furious, this is a turning point for Meg (spoiler alert here). It is the final slap that unleashes years of misery at the hands of bullies, a lifetime of not being seen and not being heard by adults, of having to navigate alone through an often-vicious high school landscape.

Meg’s inner Fury – the goddess of revenge who takes care of business when we humans are too blind and too self-centered to stand up for the innocent and vulnerable – literally comes out. Her tormentors get the full brunt of her uncorked rage.

Unfortunately, Audrie’s Fury didn’t have that same chance to emerge. Hers was a more familiar pattern in real life, especially for young women. The cruelty of others twists itself into a chaos of emotions –humiliation, anxiety, depression, fear, sadness and hopelessness.

I know these feelings. I was bullied in middle school, imitated mercilessly, taunted, locked into my own locker, and I lived in a constant state of dread, anxiety and shame. I remember the notes and ugly drawings of me being passed around my 7th grade classroom. I remember the headaches and the loneliness. I didn’t even recognize it as bullying back then, just considered it to be some kind of lack in myself, figured that I was somehow “asking for it.” I can’t imagine how much worse it is now with the texts and photos on the Internet.

What I hope is that our entire society is finally having enough of this. I’m not talking about  harsh sentences for the culprits of individual incidents. That’s just a bandage, a way of saying that we solved the problem, that it’s just these few isolated cases.

My Fury wants us all to stop turning a blind eye to what so many kids are living with, to stop chalking up bullying behavior to  “kids being kids” and expecting the victims to develop a tougher skin or fend for themselves.

My Fury wants all of us – adults and kids – to understand just how insidious and prevalent it is. It’s not just the high-profile cases, like that of Audrie Pott. It’s the everyday, ongoing, relentless misery lived by kids who are seen as being different.

My Fury wants your Fury to speak out and say: Enough! No more! We are going to do something about it.

Here are some resources:

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Help

On April 16, Furious finally goes out into the world. So many people have been generous with their help. I've received great editing, marketing advice, graphic design tips, cheerleading and hand-holding. I appreciate all of it!

Now, maybe some of  you are sitting there thinking, "Gee Jill, what more can I do to support this book?" Um, feel free to quickly move on if that thought never crossed your mind!

For those of you still here, thanks so much. The reality of the publishing world is that authors have to throw themselves into self-promotion, so – deep breath – I'm suggesting 5 ways you can help.

1.  If you are able, buy a copy of Furious – and buy it sooner than later. Strong early sales are very important in the publishing world; it's how they measure success and delegate marketing dollars. Buy a copy (or two) to save as gifts for birthdays and holidays. Donate a copy to your public library or nearby school.

Who would enjoy it? Furious is marketed as Young Adult (ages 12 and up), but 55 percent of YA books are bought by adults. The story will appeal to readers with an interest in mythology  and contemporary high school drama. It grapples in a fun way with heavy themes, such as justice, bullying, loss of family and the power of friendship. It will appeal to young people who care about social justice, who love "Buffy," and anyone who has ever fantasized about getting revenge. It's even got romance, surfing and advice on dealing with frizzy hair. 

A starred review in Booklist says: "the combination of poignant coming-of-age with creative satire equals a fun treatment on a big topic." 

If you live near me, I am happy to sign your copy. Or, send me an email and I'll quickly mail you a signed bookmark and Furious button to wear.

You can buy books through any online seller, but I encourage purchases via your local (and probably struggling) independent bookstore. If they don't have the book in stock, it's easy to order.

2. Spread the word
Talk up Furious. Tell teachers, librarians, tweens and teens about the book. If you are a teacher, consider using it as a read-aloud or order it for the school library. Use it as text for classroom discussion. It’s great for studying mythology and literature, the justice system, problems of bullying, gender issues and more.

3. Spread the word, part 2.
Social media me. Go on Amazon, Goodreads and other book sites and give it a rating or write a short review. On Facebook or other social networking sites, mention the book. Share my updates.
I’ll be doing a blog tour (April 6-April 23). Go to the sites; post a comment or tweet. You can find the full schedule here on my blog.

4. See me in person.
Come to one of my scheduled events.  
Check out this blog and my Facebook page for updates on where I'll be reading. I'm always nervous about speaking in public and your encouraging smile will be so helpful.

If you are a teacher or librarian, invite me to speak to your students. Recommend me as a speaker to your local bookstore events coordinator, book group, writing group or community organization. I can talk about the book itself and also offer practical advice about writing and publishing.

5.  Well-wishes, hugs and glasses of wine. Bring them my way. These are appreciated most of all.


Saturday, April 06, 2013

Let me read to you

Here's where I'll be reading and holding workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. More to follow as events are confirmed. I really hope to see your smiling (or furious) face at one of these events. There will be FURIOUS bookmarks and buttons. You know you want them! Mark your calendar. 

Thurs., April 18, 7 pm.  Not Your Mother's Book Club Gets EVEN – a night of delicious revenge (with author Elizabeth Eulberg)  Books Inc. Opera Plaza

Fri., April 26, 6:30 pm —Hicklebee’s, San Jose. Teen Lit Book Swap

Wed., May 1 , 7pm. A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland. Teen Read.  

Fri., May 3, 5-6pm reading; 6-7 writing workshop University of California Santa Cruz  

Tues. May 7, 7:30pmBookshop Santa Cruz. My hometown reading. It's not on the store schedule yet, but it's happening. 

July 15-19 CSU Summer Arts Program: Writing  Fantasy for Children and Teens. 

Hope to see you.


Friday, April 05, 2013

Blog Tour Mania

I have some great stops on my blog tour -- with interviews, reviews and guest posts about all things Furious. On April 8, I'm also announcing a music contest for prizes (books and bling), so check it out.

Fri, April 6: Winterhaven Books Win an ARC.

Mon., April 8: Two Chicks on Books Hear the Playlist for FURIOUS.

Tues., April 9: I'd So Rather Be Reading

Fri., April 12: The Best Books Ever
and Adventures in YA Publishing

Mon., April 15: Birth of a New Witch

Tues., April 16:  Books With Bite PUBLICATION DAY!

Wed. April 17: MacTeens

Thurs. April 18: SciFiChick

Fri. April 19: IB Book Blogging

Mon., April 22: Ruby Reads

Tues., April 23: The Writing Life

Stop by, leave a comment and enjoy!

~~ Jill