Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A good review for Starcrossed

Mark Schreiber's Starcrossed got a nice notice at Teen Book Review. "This is an amazing, well-written, absorbing novel about real people, their lives, and their relationships–and the stars."

Fighting the good fight

I saw this bit of good news in the local paper this morning.

A local high school's gay-straight alliance student organization has won the right in federal court to make use of their school's bulletin boards and PA system for organization-related announcements. The school argued that the organization's mission was not curricular and thus they were not entitled to such access--access that is, apparently, routinely granted to sports and spirit organizations, among others. The judge was not convinced.

In my mind, what is truly commendable about this group is that they stuck with the case. Any given kid is only in high school for four years and litigation of this sort doesn't happen quickly. Time is on the districts side. So thank you, Straights and Gays for Equality of Maple Grove High School in Maple Grove, Minnesota for staying in the fight.

And don't forget to check out GLBT month at YA Books Central.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some slight changes

Some technical sleight of hand by one our IT wizards has done for the Flux blogs what Einstein wanted to do for physics. We are unified. One blog to rule them all. Okay, that's probably a bit grandiose, but I'm happy all the same. and now share the same source and the same comments (rather than being a shoddy cut and paste job by me). If you've been reading the blog at and you want to add an RSS feed, you can use this code.

And, for some book-related news, mosey on over to Cynsations for an interview with Carrie Jones. Carrie is also one of the many bloggers chiming in on the mayor of San Diego's recent change of heart. It provides an interesting contrast to the horror/hilarity of the oft-quoted bit of Iranian president Ahmanedijad's Columbia U. address.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GLBT month at YA Books Central

YA Books Central is a wonderful resource for all things YA, and this month they're doing a fantastic program on behalf of GLBT YA (and they're giving away a lot of books, including Carrie Jones' Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend). Do check it out!

Dear Flux authors:

I know many of you have books coming out or have had books just release in the past month, and in light of recent events, I feel compelled to say, please do not get involved in any high-profile felony investigations. Do not attempt to "recover" any memorabilia from your former careers as rhythm guitarists or long-distance-cycling support-crew members. It will not help your sales or increase the print run. That only works for some people.


Your faithful editor,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's a tactic . . .

. . . but I can't say it's one that makes a lot of sense to me.

A woman in Maine has checked out two copies of the popular sex-ed book It's Perfectly Normal and has refused to return them. Read this Boston Globe article for the complete story. Here's her plan, in her own words:

"Hopefully, this will harness enough people to be sufficiently horrified and and want to speak out, to say it's gone too far."
The library even has a policy and procedure for citizens who want to challenge books. Apparently that wasn't dramatic enough.

Lots of people have blogged this already, and I don't have a ton to add (this is a silly, ineffective, tactic, etc. etc.), but I think it is worth pointing out that Flux's parent company is Llewellyn Worldwide, a company whose bread and butter is Wicca, paganism, magic, and other alternative spirituality books. It's received wisdom around here that Llewellyn titles are among the most frequently stolen books in libraries. Whether the thieves are people like this woman from Maine or people legitimately interested in the books but, for whatever reason, not interested in checking them out legitimately, I don't know. But Llewellyn has been around for over 100 years. The company just bought a new building. It's going strong. No one here is listening to anyone saying "you've gone to far." There's no evidence of a groundswell of people who are "sufficiently horrified."

If anything, people around here and, I think, people in the book business in general are energized by the notion that what we do has value precisely because there are people out there who feel so strongly that it doesn't. This is why this tactic does not work.

How It's Done in the classroom

It's always cool when I hear about a reader connecting with one of our books, but it's even better when a reader loves a book so much that they need to share it. I'm particularly interested in and often surprised by what aspects of a book people feel compelled to share. Jillian Miller's case is no exception. She teaches family and consumer sciences at Billings West High School in Billings, MT. She's about to receive twenty-five copies of How It's Done by Christine Kole MacLean for her classroom. I asked her a few questions about how she intends to use Christine's book in her class.

Andrew: How did you come across How It’s Done? What was your initial reaction after reading it?
Jillian: I came across How It’s Done at my public library, where I spend a great deal of time. My husband knows that when I die I want me memorial money to go to the library. If I ever get a second teaching endorsement it will be in reading. Anyway, about the book . . . . I loved it! I breezed through it in about 6 or 8 hours. It was just engrossing and I couldn’t do anything else. I read it for a class on contemporary fiction, so my family had to leave me alone, because I was doing “homework”. We could choose any young adult fiction that we wanted.

A: What made you want to share it with your students?
J: This book covers almost every topic we may discuss in my family life class, from parenting styles to friendship to dating and beyond…

A: What kind of discussion do you think it will lead to? Do you think they’ll like it and/or want to talk about it?
J: I think we’ll have great discussions. The author has a list of everything that we plan to discuss. I think they will really enjoy talking about their own lives in the shadow of Grace’s life.

A: Is there one part in particular that you really want to talk about?
J: I especially want the students to discuss charming boys! They are not always what they seem and can often lead to BAD relationships. I have mostly girls in my classes and many of them have low self-esteem and need the self-assurance of a character like Grace who made a bad choice. I think some of them can learn through example.

A: Are there any parts of the book you’re not looking forward to discussing?
J: I’m not sure if the book will get approved due to the abortion and reference to the religious father. So I may not be able to discuss any if that happens. However, I have many former students who would love to read and blog about this book. I hope it does get approved!

A: Have you done this before with other books?
J: No, this is my first attempt at using a complete novel in the classroom. I guess I did read A Child Called It to my students before the book approval process became so strict.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Video for Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend.

The inimitable M2 Productions has struck again, this time for Carrie Jones' Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend.

If you haven't read the interview with the auteur behind M2's videos, do check it out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle has passed away

Her New York Times obituary . . .

I read all of her Wrinkle in Time books when I was young, but she was truly important to my wife, who has read every word she published.

Besides the books, she seems to have been quite a source of witty quotes. I love this one: "You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children."

Reviews for Friday

We got a nice assortment of reviews for some new books this week.

Booklist found precocious pretensions in Brian Mandabach's narrator in Or Not (which is good, because he definitely put them there), but said “…teens will gradually find themselves absorbed by Cassie’s life, and empathize with her struggles." Kliatt was similarly captivated by Cassie's beauty and strength: “[The] strength is in the character of Cassie, a brilliant young teenager who is the object of scorn and bullying in her middle school.” I can sympathize with these reviewers. Cassie Sullivan is one of the most maddening and endearing narrators I've ever had the pleasure to meet--and this is exactly why I knew we needed to publish the book. She jumps off the page.

Kliatt also weighed in on Running with the Wind, John Foley's sequel to Hoops of Steel, which Kliatt praised as "an ideal selection for sports fiction aimed at older teens.” They said of the follow up, "Readers will learn to sail with [Jackson], and understand the great appeal of the sea as it tests an individual. . . . [T]he author is a high school teacher who understands young men and athletics.”

Finally, party-girl Sara Hantz has her Second Virginity of Suzy Green under the microscope at Kliatt. Results are positive. "The topics addressed here--sexuality, friendship, family relationships--all add depth to the plot and should be fodder for discussion"

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It must be the elves or perhaps the faeries . . . has a feature that I don't think gets used very much--at least not for YA books. You can "tag" products with keywords, much as bloggers tag posts (other bloggers, that it, I always forget). Like so many Amazon "features," it's buried among a million other bells and whistles and you're not likely to see it. There seem to be some exceptions, though, for certain special areas of interest. For instance, The Tree Shepherd's Daughter by Gillian Summers is an urban faerie (and elf!) fantasy for which we have high hopes this fall, and it's just now in stores. I noticed on its Amazon page that it's been tagged "elf" several times as well as "fairy" (both spellings!). I don't know if it's just me, but there's something pleasingly appropriate about a book with elves and faeries acquiring mysterious "tags," seemingly overnight--tags only likely to be seen by those with "faerie sight."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A blog to watch

It's possible that "announcing" that Heidi R. Kling's Sea Heidi Write blog is interesting and very active is akin to "announcing" that chocolate is kinda good--true, but it goes without saying.

Anyway, she's recently launched into a series of interviews, including one time Flux interviewee, Jennifer Laughran of NYMBC. Heidi asks Jennifer questions about Muppets that apparently I neglected to ask. And, today, she posted a Muppet-centric interview with Carrie Jones, that also strays onto the topic of Patrick Swayze and 80s Cold-War paranoia shoot-'em-up Red Dawn (true confessions: I've never seen Red Dawn. Somehow, I never managed to be over at the house of a friend who had a VCR at the right time, and by the time we got a VCR, it wasn't interesting anymore).