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!
Watch the official trailer for JESSICA DARLING’S IT LIST here!
This fun, coming-of-age comedy based on the first book in the series comes out on JUNE 21st! It will be available Digital HD and On Demand at the following platforms:
· Broadband – Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Sling/Blockbuster, Vimeo, Vudu, Xfinity
· Satellite/Cable – AT&T, Charter, DirecTV, Dish, iNDEMAND (Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable) Verizon, Vubiquity
I only blog when it’s important. In this case, I want to give a shout-out to everyone who contributed books to 2nd NJ Trans Youth Forum: Cris Beam, Francesca Lia Block, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Amy Fabrikant, Donna Gephart, Alex Gino, Rachel Gold, Susan Kuklin, David Levithan, Jennifer Laughran, Everett Maroon, R.I. Merey, Ami Polonsky, Pat Schmatz, Ellen Wittlinger and Jennie Wood. Their generous contributions are the foundation of the HiTOPS Trans Lit Library.
The 2nd NJ Trans Youth Fourm maxed out on 200 pre-registrants a week before the event and had many, many more walk-ins. Overall, we more than doubled the number of attendees from last year. The whole day was a smashing success and I’m proud to say that the Trans Lit Storytime workshop was a particular favorite. When we broke for quiet reading periods, I swear there wasn’t a sound but the tick-tock of the clock. Not a lit up screen in the entire room. Just open books and mesmerized readers.
So many emotional moments for me, but a few highlights:
The high school senior asking, “Where has this book been all my life?” after I read the opening chapter of PARROTFISH.
The genderqueer teen greeting me with a huge hug of gratitude because I’d given them a copy of JUST GIRLS at the GSA* Forum last fall.
The student looking so crushed when I told them BUMBLING INTO BODY HAIR wasn’t one of the give-away books…that I *had* to give it to them anyway! Then expressing what I think so many kids were thinking:
“Oh my god! This author is ME. I’ve never read a story like this before. I never knew books like this existed.”
As Katie Rain Hill, trans activist and author of RETHINKING NORMAL, said in her powerful keynote address, “Everyone knows the feeling of otherness.” Readers of all ages can find comfort in characters and stories that reflect or represent their own experiences. That’s why I volunteer my time–to share these vitally important books with the trans youth so desperately in need of validation and support.
I can finally reveal my BIG SECRET! Via The Wrap: DISNEY STAR DEBBY RYAN TO EXECUTIVE PRODUCE JESSICA DARLING’S IT LIST. The film was shot last summer and I love the cast (especially Chloe East as Jessica Darling–she is IMPERFECT PERFECTION) and everyone on the Mar Vista Entertainment production crew and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Until then, behold this photo of the cast, Debby Ryan and director Ali Scher crushing a Disney XD premiere. IT LIST RULE #6: If you see a red carpet, WERK IT.
When I’m not writing YA and MG books, I’m a volunteer with HiTOPS, an adolescent health education and advocacy center in Princeton, NJ. Right now I’m on the planning committee for the 12th Annual NJ GSA Forum, a conference for LGBTQIA* youth, advisors and allies co-sponsored by HiTOPS and GLSEN Central Jersey to be held on November 14th at Ocean Township High School. The conference offers workshops and panels on everything from coming out to your parents, to being leaders in the community, to being queer students of color. It’s an empowering event that attracts more than 400 attendees from all over the state. Many say they look forward to the conference all year. It’s not too late to register! And no youth will be turned away due to inability to pay. Continue reading NJ GSA* Forum LGBTQIA* Starter Library→
Crazy teachers; best friends turning pretty overnight; “The Unbreakable Laws of Cafeteria Line Cutting”…. Junior high is rough, and Jessica Darling needs help! Enter older sister Bethany and her “It List,” meant to help Jessica uphold “The Darling Domination of Popularity.”
In Jessica Darling’s It List 3, Jessica faces the potentially mortifying outcome of the Top Secret Pineville Junior High Crushability Test. Plus, she’s kind of stuck in the middle, as smarties and skaters unite to collect signatures on a petition to bring back the school’s annual dance. Will the dramarama of seventh grade be Jessica’s downfall? Not if she can help it.