The cast and crew vividly captured all the humor and heartache of Pineville High School. A special shout-out to Victoria Keith and Cole Greenberg whose nuanced performances stayed true to Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie we know and love while still making the characters their own.
This was an unforgettable world premiere that I hope is the first of many productions to come. If you’re involved in a teen theater program and are interested in bringing SLOPPY FIRSTS to your stage, please contact me via email@example.com.
Yes! It’s true. I adapted SLOPPY FIRSTS for a world premiere this March 16th-18th at Round House Theater, recently lauded by the Washington Post as one of the area’s best and most ambitious regional theaters. This is the 16th Sarah Metzger Memorial play to be produced and presented by RH’S Teen Performance Program, an incredible year-round intensive that puts high school students totally in charge of running every aspect of the show. (Well, with input from adult mentors Iike me.)
I spent my entire childhood and adolescence involved in local theater, so my young and dramatic self is SO JEALOUS. My grown up self is beyond thrilled for this creative, collaborative opportunity to bring life to Jessica Darling, Marcus Flutie and the world of Pineville High in a whole new way.
Tickets are available RIGHT NOW. I’ll be at every performance. For sure.
This is my third year volunteering for the NJ Trans Youth Forum sponsored by HiTOPS and GLSEN Central NJ. It’s the only conference in the state for trans-spectrum youth, allies and educators and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been a part of it from the very beginning. This year I’m beyond excited to announce an #ownvoices author panel featuring Tyler Ford (MTV contributor), Alex Gino (GEORGE), Meredith Russo (IF I WAS YOUR GIRL) and Pat Schmatz (LIZARD RADIO), moderated by youth librarian and reviewer Kyle Lukoff. This event is run on a microbudget, so please consider making a donation to sponsor trans youth who will otherwise be unable to attend.
I’m honored to follow Albert Einstein, Cornel West and Trey Anastasio as LiLLiPiES Bakery’s Princetonian Sandwich of the Month. Like, seriously honored because I seriously love sandwiches. When asked what I wanted my namesake sandwich to be, I answered without hesitation. It’s as if I’d been waiting my whole life to shout: OMG BLT WITH AVOCADO ON PRETZEL BREAD!!! The sandwich is on sale through February and 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to HiTOPS Adolescent Health Education and Advocacy Center in Princeton, NJ.
I love to sing even more than I love sandwiches. So to celebrate the best thing that’s happened to me in 2017 (by far), I’m performing two short acoustic sets with my band’s other band–the aptly named Syde Projekt–at LiLLiPIES Bakery in the Princeton Shopping Center on Sunday, February 26th between 1-3PM.
We are a covers-only band and do not take ourselves too seriously. Please come, listen and and stuff your face to support a fantastic organization.
Thanks to the generosity of *authors, editors, agents and publishers, we received nearly 300 LGBTQ books for the HiTOPS/GLSEN NJGSA Forum.
Here’s an overview of how these books were given to queer youth in need.
Roughly 100 books were added to the HiTOPS Adolescent Health Education Center’s LGBTQ Lit Library. This permanent collection will be available for all young people who take advantage of programming at the drop-in community center in Princeton, New Jersey. HiTOPS hosts weekly LGBTQ support groups that draw youth from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many aren’t out to their family and peers, which makes it challenging for them to buy or check out LGBTQ books from their school or public libraries. HiTOPS provides a safe space for them to enjoy stories that speak to them.
All NJ GSA Forum attendees got a free raffle ticket and 50 books went out as prizes for superexcited winners of the drawings. Approximately 75 books were surprise takeaways for the youth, allies and educators who attended my LGBTQ Lit Story Time workshop. Another 25 were a special thank you for the passionate, hard-working members of the Perth Amboy High School GSA who volunteered many hours in preparing to host the forum. The remaining books were set aside for future forums, including the 3rd Annual NJ Trans Youth Form to be held in early Spring 2017.
The election was a heartbreaking blow to the LGBTQ community. A shadow loomed over the room on Saturday, a palpable heaviness that I hadn’t felt in past forums. These kids are scared about the impact the incoming administration will have on their rights to live and love like everyone else.
And yet, I was also a witness to such beautiful optimism. I lost count of the number of teens who rushed over to my table, brightening at the sight of LGBTQ books on display. They gushed about their favorites, snapped pics for their TBR lists, made confessions about the “secret” novels they’re already writing. When my story hour was over, many told me it was the highlight of the forum. I know they could have spent the whole day losing and finding themselves in new words and worlds.
I’m a writer because I’m a reader. Books have always helped me better understand myself and others. I truly believe LGBTQ literature can change—and save—lives. Thank to everyone out there trying to make a positive difference in the world. Your work matters now more than ever before, so please keep doing what you do.
*Thank you: Dahlia Adler, Jessica Anderson (MacMillan), Becky Abertalli, Meredith Barnes (Soho Press), Jaye Robin Brown, Rachel Cohn, Danielle Dreger, Kate Evangelista, Jeff Garvin, Donna Gephart, Brittani Hilles (St. Martin’s Press), Shaun David Hutchinson, C.B. Lee, David Levithan (Scholastic), E. Lockhart, Carolyn Mackler, Ann-Marie McLemore, Alison McDonald (The Rights Factory), Patricia Ready (Barry Goldblatt Literary), Caleb Roehrig, Riley Redgate, Meredith Russo, Kristin Seim (Candlewick), Robin Talley, Lindsay Smith, John Corey Whaley and if there’s anyone I accidentally omitted PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
LGBTQ literature saves lives! The 13th Annual NJ GSA Forum needs fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, memoirs and poetry. New or used, paperbacks, hardcovers and ARCs—if it’s a positive representation of the LGBTQ experience, we want it!
The NJ GSA Forum is an annual conference sponsored by GLSEN Central Jersey and HiTOPS health education center. This year’s event will be held at Perth Amboy High School on November 19th and is expected to draw hundreds of LGBTQ youth, educators and allies from all over the state. I’ve volunteered at the forum for several years now and I’m so proud to play even just a small role in putting together such an empowering day.
Young readers love discovering characters and stories that reflect their own experiences. We want every teen to go home with a book. Can you help us achieve our goal? We’re expecting a high number of bilingual attendees, so books in Spanish are especially in need.
Please send to:
HiTOPS GSA Book Donations
21 Wiggins Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
Thanks to all authors, publishers, agents, librarians and booksellers for your support!
So. My book was made into a movie. You can watch it via Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, Dish and pretty much any way you can rent/buy movies from your couch except Netflix (but it will eventually be on Netflix so I am told). I went to the one-and-only in theater showing in Los Angeles. I hung out with producer Debby Ryan on the red carpet and saw my name on the big screen.
It was all very surreal. I’ve seen this movie five times now in the company of tweens and I can honestly tell you that viewers 8-13 can totally relate to Jessica Darling’s middle school misadventures. They laughed, they cringed, and yes, more than one even cried.
Casting was crucial and the performances don’t disappoint. Chloe East (soon to be seen on the final season of Liv & Maddie) gives such a beautifully nuanced portrayal of pre-teen awkwardness. She’s such a natural and embodies the insider/outsider spirit of Jessica Darling in every way. I love her chemistry with Jacob Melton, who is charmingly off-kilter as Aleck/Marcus. Emma Rayne Lyle (I Don’t Know How She Does It) perfectly captures Bridget’s struggle to be loyal to her best friend but true to herself. As Hope, Jane Widdop (The Kicks) gives a performance that is really sly, low-key and with just the right dash of sarcastic contrast to Emma’s bubbly sunshine. Ashley Liao (Fuller House) and Eva Bella (Frozen) are laugh-out-loud funny, but not too over-the-top in their meanness as Manda and Sara. Anday Tural, Niko Alexander and Kyla-Drew round out the stellar cast as Burke, Scotty and Dori and make the most of their key moments in the story. I want a sequel for many reasons but mostly because I’d love to see all these talented actors working together again!