My NoVaTEEN 2017 Experience

Let’s be honest here: I suck at blogging. It’s just not my thing. Blog posts take a significant amount of effort and I’d rather be spending that time and effort on other things (like on the clicking involved with navigating Netflix, for example). But seeing as my last post was over 6 months ago, I’m going to drop a little something to make this part of my social presence look alive. Just because my blog is mostly frozen in time doesn’t mean I’m not around. Catch me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


On March 11, 2017 the NoVaTEEN book festival took place in Arlington, Virginia. I had the pleasure of being one of the many YA authors who participated in the festival. Man, did I fangirl at NoVaTEEN. I’m so impressed at the group of authors that were brought together for this one teen-focused day. I got to meet Jaye Robin Brown, Nina Lacour, Zoraida Cordova, Caleb Roehrig, Rafi Mittlefehldt, among many others.

My NoVaTEEN experience started out with an author visit at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria where I met a group of library staff and a couple groups of students. I got to have lunch while chatting with the teens about all kinds of writerly and queer things. This was also my first experience being mic’d up for a presentation I gave that was filmed by the T.C. Williams a/v crew. An Open Book Foundation also got involved by donating copies of GIRL MANS UP for the students in attendance—how awesome is that?

I had another author visit the next day at Marshall High School in Falls Church. Once again, some excellent library people and a couple groups of teens. We talked about so many things. There were such great questions, and I was so pumped to know quite a few of them had read my book! I took home a stack of thank-you notes from the student and a ton of excellent memories.

This is the first time I’ve been able to interact with teens who read my book. It was a pretty massive deal for me. It’s still quite weird to me when I think about the fact that I’ve written a book that strangers have access to.

I felt like time went by way too fast! I could’ve hung out with the teens and librarians at both schools for an entire day and I still would’ve been chatting away. It was such an enriching experience for me, as a writer of teen fiction, to get to hang out in schools and talk to young people. There are only so many times adults can find themselves in high school again, so I definitely was hyperaware of everything that was going on, observing closely, because these were perfect opportunities to do some research!

I am so thankful to both schools and NoVaTEEN for making these visits happen.

NoVaTEEN was such a well-organized, exciting experience. I have never seen so many teens at a book event! I would absolutely recommend attending and/or participating.

Check out some of my photos!

Photo Diary, Girl Mans Up Style

If you’ve read GMU, you’ll probably get what this is trying to be reminiscent of. Of course we couldn’t stick to the exact same idea because of the insane likelihood that something totally rude or crude could’ve been “truthed.”

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’ll just have to go read the book! 😛

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Girl Mans Up Book Launch #2: Durham Region

Wednesday evening was Book Launch #2 for Girl Mans Up. (Photo gallery is at the end of this post.) I planned 2 launches because when you’re from the suburbs, traveling to downtown Toronto is a pain in the ass. All that traffic, and the parking drama. Anyway, I decided to have this second launch at a local library.

This launch was different from the first launch. The first had this downtown/nightspot feel, with several people I didn’t know attending, along with my agent and the HarperCollins Canada team. The second was in a bright room, and was packed with people I know, many of whom I’ve known for a long time. I am so glad the library gave me the bigger room because had we had to go with the original room I requested, we would’ve been stuck together and gasping for air.

Book launches, I’m finding out, are like big social teases, dangling all these cool people in front of the person who wrote the book and basically going, Ha! You’re all giddy to be seeing these people but you won’t have more than 1 minute to talk to each of them, and then it’ll be over and everyone will have gone home. I just wanted to talk to everyone, see what they’ve all been up to!

I saw people I went to elementary school and high school with, some of my mom’s longtime coworkers, some of my own coworkers, many loyal faces from my local writing community (the Writers’ Community of Durham Region), and of course close friends and family.

I could just leave it at all the amazing, but I won’t. I’m going to share the not-so-great things that happened because those are way more interesting to read about. So here’s what happened: I got punched in the mouth by the microphone I was using for my reading and Q&A, and rather than punch it back, I rolled with it and kept on chatting away. I had gotten stuck in the rain on the way in earlier, and everyone neglected to tell me my hair had gone all “There’s Something about Mary” on me. Half the photos taken turned out blurry and/or have my messed-up hair in them. And I ran out of books to sell (but that part is actually pretty exciting!).

I had planned to write this blog post yesterday, however my attention was totally highjacked by the more exciting, badass thing ever:

To give you some context, although Pen came to life through the inspiration I got from my girlfriend Melissa, when describing Pen, I had Bex Taylor-Klaus in mind. I sent clips of her as Bullet (in The Killing) to my editor to help her see the way I see Pen. So it’s been a thing for quite a while now that Melissa and I are like, “If there’s ever a Girl Mans Up movie, Bex totally has to play Pen.” (And not just because she literally looks the part, but also because she’s just an awesome actor. Go watch The Killing and Scream and you’ll see the energy and heart she brings to a part.) She’s who we picture when we read the story. So I tweeted Bex just that. And then her response came:

I mean…what?! Melissa and I had a serious case of fangirlism. We legit screamed repeatedly and scared the crap out of our puppies. And through all this, my Twitter was blowing up with mentions. People actually went out to buy my book on Bex’s recommendation (so, you know, thanks, Bex!). I honestly never thought something like this would happen. When you write a book, you often get asked “Who would play so-and-so in the movie?” And you throw out names of famous people just for fun. I was all “Hands down, Bex Taylor-Klaus.” Well now she’s reading my book, and I’m over here trying not to be a creeper about it because I just want to be bombarding her with tweets! Where did you get the book? How did you hear about it? What page are you on? What parts made you laugh? No but for real—how did my book end up in your hands? Do you wanna hang out?

Let me be clear: There is no Girl Mans Up movie (as of yet, anyway). But personally I think there should be (ha!) and I think it should happen while Bex can still play teenaged characters. 😉

And now for the photos of the second launch. (For just the photos, click here.)

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Girl Mans Up is Out!

Yesterday was September 6, the day my YA novel GIRL MANS UP was released. I’d planned on writing a little thing IMG_20160906_191124about it, but the day ended up being crazy-busy, mostly because of Twitter. 😀 I did talk a little about this milestone on my agent Linda Epstein’s blog, so check out that post if you want to read my thoughts on this story going from idea to book.

So yesterday GMU came out…

14188185_1125269607561184_1858142118738416256_oI went to my local Chapters to see it live. I think this is the realest this has felt, so far. When I received the ARC, and even the hardcover book, I felt like it was some prop I ordered. Maybe because it was in my hands, in my house, in my little universe. At Chapters, it was just a book on a shelf with all the others. I spotted it from across the aisle (my red book is eye-catching!). It was extra special because at that location, it was facing out, with a “Staff Pick” sticker. Coincidentally, that staff person was there, so it was great to meet her in person.

After that, I drove to another local Chapters. This one hadn’t received its order, 14257446_1125269557561189_4502110421592326369_oso that was kind of a bummer. 😛 I then drove to the mall and signed the few copies that bookstore had. Throughout all this, I was killing my phone battery and eating up all my data because…Twitter.

gmu lindaFor one day, I got to feel like a celebrity, and it was nutty! Ha! I can’t believe all the pub-day attention I got. It almost felt like everyone else was as excited as I was. Book Birthdays are way better than real birthdays, let me tell you.

My agent called me from New York, and she went to go see my book at her local Barnes & Noble. How cool is that?!

Malinda Lo posted a blog specifically about my book, which was a total surprise. That made my release day extra awesome.

And then Emma Donoghue tweeted about my book! That was quite ridiculously amazing. I’m still in awe.

So back to my book adventure. I didn’t just go out to stare at my book. Not at all. I went to spend money! There are so many queer YA books out right around the same time. I celebrated my book release by buying myself a ton of IMG_20160906_121237books. 😀 And it looks like I won’t be quitting my book spending for a while because Fall really is where queer YA literature is at. Don’t forget to check out the hashtag #FallLGBTQ on Twitter for a series of chats this fall. Speaking of… I had my #FallLGBTQ chat yesterday afternoon, along with Robin IMG_20160906_135623Talley and Zoraida Cordova (whose new books I totally bought yesterday).

I crashed early last night because I had been up for way over 24hrs (night-shift worker here), and after that crazy day, I was out.

Today I’m over at Diversity in YA with a Q&A on GIRL MANS UP‘s approach to gender, sexuality, and language. Check it out, especially if you’ve been wondering about those hot-button topics. 😉

And tonight is my second book launch, at one of my local libraries. I cannot wait!!

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