Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Boys, Boys, Boys

Hi everyone! Welcome back from my blogging hiatus. I've been doing a lot of work on a new project, so I haven't been here that much. Today, though, I'd like to welcome the fabulous E. Lockhart to the blog!

Now, I haven't read ALL the authors whom I host on this blog. (Though I believe they're all very talented! I just can't always speak from personal experience.) But I HAVE read E. Lockhart's books. Her stuff is JUST the kind of stuff I ADORED as a teenager. Honest, refreshing, funny. (And actually, I guiltily read Young Adult fiction... still.) So if you know a teenager who could use a fun book, or if you haven't quite gotten over the teen years yourself... check out her stuff. Her latest book is titled THE BOY BOOK.


The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them
is the sequel to The Boyfriend List, which is just out in paperback. The Boy Book is about Ruby, who in the first book plummeted from social butterfly to leper, rebuilding her life junior year of high school -- with the help of a guide to understanding the male sex that she wrote with her ex-friends.

The new, cheaper edition of the first Ruby Oliver book (The Boyfriend List) has a fun author Q&A at the back, plus provocative questions for your book club or reading group.

In The Boy Book, Rub confronts the secret about Noel,
mysterious notes from Jackson,
the interpretation of boy-speak,
the villainy of Cricket,
the horrors of the school retreat,
and the exploitation of hooters everywhere.

There are fruit roll-ups.

There is upper-regioning.
There are so many boys to choose from!
And there are penguins.

THE AUTHOR (in her own words)

I have had nine official boyfriends, if you count the boy who asked me to go with him at a 7th grade dance and then basically never talked to me again. I have never been on a sports team of any kind and got excused from gym class by going to ballet lessons. I have a tattoo, cut my own hair, and have worn the same perfume since high school (Kiehl's Chinese Flowers). In my office is a photo of a particularly fat bull dog, an official business card from “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective”, and the 1920s flapper dress I wore to the prom

"Lockhart achieves the perfect balance of self-deprecating humor and self-pity in Ruby, and thus imbues her with such realism she seems to fly off the page." -- VOYA

"Each chapter begins with an excerpt from 'The Boy Book' which is hilarious...The book not only covers topics teens obsess over, but it helps illustrate the connection Ruby had with her friends, especially Kim, and what a loss she has suffered. Ruby's overanalytical, fast-paced and authentic narration will win over new devotees, while her loyal fans will no doubt hope for more." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The story is both humorous and witty, and the language is realistically raw. Sections such as "The Care and Ownership of Boobs" are particularly funny." -- School Library Journal

"[Ruby's] character's strength stems from her earnest search for identity through introspection, sexual experimentation, therapy, and the formation and rehabbing of new and old friendships. Refreshingly honest." -- Kirkus


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how
the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

The Boy Book is a sequel. When I was writing The Boyfriend List, I described the way teenage Ruby and her friends kept a notebook for several years in which they detailed everything they knew or suspected about the male animal. Most of it was written in pseudo-scientific jargon, like it was a book about wolverines or something. And as I was describing that notebook, I started to want to WRITE the notebook, which was not at all necessary to the plot of the first book.

So I realized I had a second book in me, and that it would be structured around the entries in that notebook.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Like other professions, the writing world often operates on personal connections. If you are young and can hack waiting tables for a bit, I'd recommend coming to New York and getting an internship or entry-level job in publishing. Get a sense of the business. Go to events and meet people. Of course, writers get published without doing these things. I myself did not do these things. But doing them made the road to publication easier for a number of people I know.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

When I'm in the middle of a project I have a daily word count and I try to meet it. 1000 or 1500 words a day. It is very unpleasant. But I think that finishing that first draft is the most important thing for a writer to do.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most

Teen Author Drink night! I write for young adults, and in the past year the community of YA writers in the New York City area has started meeting for drinks once a month. We imbibe liquids in a responsible fashion, talk shop, and gossip. It's awesome having a group of people who understand what I do and why I do it -- and to learn from them.

Most frustrating? I still get rejections on a regular basis. They don't cut me to the quick any more, but they're not easy to take, either.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,
what else is in the works?

Yes! A follow-up! There's going to be a third Ruby Oliver book, tentatively titled A Real Live Boyfriend -- but I haven't begun writing it yet. Next up for me is a book about summer drama camp called Dramarama. You can find out more here.

Thank you so much! Pick up The Boy Book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indie bookseller.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Say Hey to Babs Boxer & Di Feinstein~Children's Congress 2006

Do you know about Children's Congress? The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sponsors a mock Congress every year. Each June, two children from each state get to go to tell members of Congress what it's like to have Type 1 Diabetes. The selection is based on a letter written by the kids. We've been working on ours since AUGUST and finally submitted it yesterday, a couple days shy of the deadline.

My son's chance of getting in is a long shot--California is a big state, and they only pick two children. But to me, the important thing isn't whether he gets the honor of getting this important job. The important thing is that the Senators and Representatives read each and every letter. Also, writing it was a tremendously valuable experience for him. At the end, he was pretty pleased with himself about all he has done.

I'm including his letter here. I think it says it all.

Dear Member of Congress,

Hi! I’m nine years old and I’m writing to you because I would like there to be a cure discovered for Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes. I hope you and your fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen can help.

I’ve been living with Type 1 Diabetes for more than two years. I remember when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and it was horrible. I was in the car at 5:30 AM, on the way to the Emergency Room, completely exhausted and empty of all fluids since I had thrown up so much. I was rushing there because earlier that week my doctor had told me I had strep throat. It seemed to be getting worse. I could not walk, stand, or speak. My skin was so dry it was like paper, and I had begun to hyperventilate. My mom and dad thought that my strep throat might be turning into pneumonia, or maybe something else was wrong.

When I got to the hospital, I was wheeled in to see the ER doctor. I was so sick I got to go to the front of the line. I was really out of it, although I know I really had to go to the bathroom, but I had no energy to get there.

They put an oxygen tube in my nose so I could breathe, then brought in a pediatric specialist to test my blood sugars. But I was so dehydrated the meter wouldn’t work. My blood sugars must have been really high because I was in diabetic ketoacidosis and I was almost in a coma. My veins were collapsing, so they had to bring in a doctor who works on premature babies to start a saline IV. Without an IV, I would die of dehydration. Fortunately, she got an IV started. At last, I fell asleep.

When I woke, I was surprised to find myself in an ambulance, along with my new teddy bear, on the way to UCSF Medical Center. My mom rode with me and explained that the ER doctor believed I had Type 1 Diabetes and that’s why I’d been so sick for so long. At UCSF, I got an insulin IV and a potassium IV. That makes three IVs if you’re not counting.

I’d gone to four different doctors before I found out I had Juvenile Diabetes. This is a lot for one person to handle, especially a kid. That’s why I think finding a cure is so important. Kids should be playing sports and hanging out with their friends, not sick in hospitals.

I’ve learned to live with Type 1 Diabetes, but it isn’t always easy. I have to poke myself all the time. At first it hurt, but now it doesn’t hurt much. To get my insulin, I have to put a needle as long as my pinky into the skin on my stomach. Sometimes I miss and hit a painful spot. I worry about what I eat, because if I take too much insulin or too little insulin, I might get Low or High and then I feel sick. Having diabetes is a lot for a kid to take care of.

Promoting diabetes awareness is important to me. The most important thing I did happened a few months after I got diagnosed. There was a proposition on the ballot called Prop 71 that would allow stem cell research in California. I think stem cell research is important for people with diabetes because it might help scientists find a cure. I held a microphone and talked in front of the whole meeting of the Marin County Peace and Justice Coalition in San Rafael. A lot of important people have talked to them before, but this time it was just a kid. Me. It was hard to figure out what to say, and I was a little nervous, but I said it. I showed everyone my meter and talked about what diabetes is like and why I support stem cell research. Prop 71 passed, and I helped.

Along with my friends and family, we did the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for the Cure in 2005 as “The O’Connor Lions” to help raise money for a cure and to promote diabetes awareness. The Walk was fun because I saw a bunch of my friends and they’re more aware of diabetes now. Also, we earned over $5,000 for JDRF! My friend Emma, who is in middle school, even decided to volunteer to help at the Walk in 2006. I’ll bet Emma would not have thought of doing that without walking with me last year. This year, we are walking again to raise a bunch of money.

I’ve also talked to people around my school about diabetes. Kids wonder what my meter is and why I always carry a pack with all my supplies. If kids make fun of me or unzip my diabetes pack, I explain to them what diabetes is and why I need my stuff. I’m really nice, even if they’re mean. My whole class knows about diabetes because my mom and I gave a presentation about it at the beginning of the year.

Another thing I did was diabetes camp. I learned more about how to count carbohydrates and I got to go fishing with other kids with diabetes. Being a kid with diabetes is lonely sometimes, or actually all the time. At camp, I helped newly diagnosed kids learn about diabetes and not feel so alone.

In addition, I’ve been in some focus groups to talk to people about technology for diabetes. These people are trying to make inventions, like the “dream meter” that I want. I had to tell them what is hard and what is easy about diabetes. Trust me, diabetes is not easy! I helped other people with diabetes by doing this because now there will be better meters, thanks to my ideas.

I also donated twelve vials of blood for diabetes research. The doctors put a big needle in my arm and sucked out a lot of blood. I didn’t have to do this, I wanted to. I helped the doctors be more aware of what was in my blood. Maybe this will help find a cure.

I had fun auditioning for a OneTouch blood sugar meter commercial with jazz musician BB King. I’m a jazz musician too. I play the saxophone! Even though I didn’t get the part, many people were curious about what it’s like to audition for a commercial. I was able to tell them a whole lot about diabetes, too.

I hope this letter has shown you a little more about diabetes. Diabetes should be important to you, because some kids can’t handle diabetes, and they want a cure, just like me. I can handle diabetes, but what about the little kids, or the babies? They can’t test their blood sugar and don’t understand what’s happening. I can’t vote for nine more years, but please support diabetes research now and I promise I will vote for you when I turn eighteen.

[my son's signature]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Rarely Have We Seen a Person Fail Who Has Thoroughly Followed Our Path

I'm feeling so great this weekend. I got a little present on Friday to remind me of my sobriety. It's a small thing but means so much more than bigger gifts I received when I was still drinking.

I am so grateful today. The miracle of my recovery is shining brightly around me. There so many things I am doing now that I could never have done. There are so many people I am able to love today whom I could not have loved while drinking. "RARELY HAVE WE SEEN A PERSON FAIL WHO HAS THOROUGHLY FOLLOWED OUR PATH." The life I have now, the friends I have, I wouldn't trade them for a million drinks. (Or, for that matter, a million bucks.) It's a great day to be sober...