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 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 educator declaring BEYOND MAGENTA should be required reading for anyone working with youth.
The mother wishing she had WHEN KAYLA WAS KYLE at the time of her daughter’s coming out.
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.
“This latest installment in the perils of Pineville Junior High can be described in just the same way as describing its title character: hilarious, sweet, and smart. This is a fun but not fluffy book; instead it provides some insightful truths about the heartbreaks of growing up, while maintaining a wicked sense of humor.” VOYA (starred review)
More than 100 authors from the YA community have come together to help support New Jersey residents devastated by Sandy. As I’ve said, I’ve been moved to tears by disasters half-way around the world. But–to risk sounding like an action movie cliche–THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL. Many in my hometown are still without power. Far too many more are without homes or anywhere to go. Please like YA for NJ on Facebook to find out how to win something cool from your favorite author all in the name of an excellent cause.
For example, I’m donating a uniquely-annotated-in-my-very-own-handwriting ADVANCED READER COPY of SLOPPY FIRSTS. It’s from 2001, people. The Backstreet Boys were still boys. (Okay. Maybe not Kevin. Kevin was always kinda old. But you get what I’m saying.) This ARC is so rare that it’s the last one I have in my possession. In this one-of-a-kind ARC I will reveal all sorts of insider information such as the backstories behind all the characters including THE TRUE ORIGINS OF MARCUS FLUTIE.
So. Maybe that’s something you’d like to bid on once the bidding gets going. Perhaps you would like to bid on swag donated by any one of the 100+ authors who have promised to participate. (With a special shout-out to author and bonafide Jersey Girl Kieran Scott for putting this all together.) Again, like YA for NJ on facebook to find out when the fundraising begins. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
“THUMPED is funny, brilliant and amazingly unique.” Wovenmyst, YA mag
“[T]his series proves just how thought provoking the YA genre can be. It is about sisterhood. It is a commentary on the celebrity-obsessed world we live in and how the media can blow it all out of proportion. It is about parenting and enjoying the simple things. It is about doing the right thing even when it’s the most complicated and it seems like everyone is against you. Most of all it is about FEELING something in an age where we are connected through disconnect. READ THIS NOW.” Estelle, Rather Be Reading
“By the novel’s conclusion [THUMPED] was all very “stirring”–as the girls decide what to do with their reproductive futures, facing the melancholy truth of their universe, and ours, I found myself getting very choked up. If YA dystopians have garnered any consistent criticism, it’s that they’re not socially relevant enough. McCafferty’s novels stand as an answer to that. Her world might not be our world in a literal sense, but for all intents and purposes the conflicts faced by both Melody and Harmony are identical to the conflicts faced by women and girls today. These are important questions–and these are important books.” Intergalactic Academy
“I love the world Megan McCafferty created in these books; it’s so unique and original. The thing that stands out to me the most is that while these are dystopian books, the whole story has a light, fun feel to it — it never gets too heavy, but still evokes emotion during the intense moments.I love the characters she created with Harmony and Melody. Even though they’re identical twins, they are so different from each other, and their separate voices come across on the page.” Michelle Madow
“The messages of having sex for love instead of just having sex for sex, as well as getting married for love instead of getting married to be married are really important, and I think that McCafferty definitely makes the most of her ridiculous and hilarious setting in order to deliver these messages. As well as the final message as delivered in the Big Reveal – ‘love in any form is important – be it straight, gay, or other.’ I really appreciated these messages and I hope that teens get as much out of it as I did (even though I’m 27).” Birth of a New Witch
“THUMPED is probably going to offend a lot of people if it isn’t read with a satirical frame of mind. There are a lot of things I laughed at that others would most DEFINITELY find political, controversial, and offensive. This book pokes at the rules of religion, politics, sexuality, today’s media, and the female body. It’s set in a world that’s both different and interestingly similar to our own. Outside the story and characters, there are morals and standards that are breaking down boundaries and crossing the line, but what does it REALLY say in reflection to our own society?” I Eat Words
“Recognizing that Ms. McCafferty’s sex-centric world with its Reproductive Professionals and its bumping contracts has a direct link to our reality if we follow the line of thinking from this future all the way back to our pasts is part of what makes both Bumped and Thumped so uncomfortably fascinating. However much we’d like to deny the potential for this society to exist, the connecting thread our minds can’t help but draw between future and past simply refuses to be disregarded as pure fiction. Though Bumped and Thumped may be too over the top and too outrageous for some, it can be said that anyone reading will certainly not walk away from these books without an opinion on them–either positive or negative–thus making them worth reading for no other reason than they inspire a great deal of thought, introspection, and conversation.” Supernatural Snark
Yes. You read that correctly. There is a SLOPPY FIRSTS movie in the works. And we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the series with a contest that gives YOU a chance to view the exclusive video introduction to the director’s vision of SLOPPY FIRSTS on screen.
But before I give you those details…
I must first acknowledge the many amazing tributes I received for the Epic Giving Away of Rare and One-of-a-Kind Stuff. You all made me so MISTY. A small sample:
“SLOPPY FIRSTS was more than just the first book in the Jessica Darling series, it was an introduction to a world– though fictional–but was in every bit of sense real and true…. at least it will always be for me.”–Lianne J., Davao City, Philippines
“As I watched Jessica grow, mature, fall, fail, love, learn, cry, and dance, I saw my own life transcribed on the pages in front of me…Thanks for creating a character that kept me company through the years, that was the best inspiration a girl could have, because she was the me I wanted to be.” Kelly W., You Can Read Me Anything
“This series will make you laugh, cry, smile, and then get angry, it will horrify you but you won’t be able to stop. Jessica Darling is everything you never wanted to admit you were and everything you wanted to be all at the same time. SLOPPY FIRSTS defined a generation, and will continue to aid High Schoolers for years to come. Jessica Darling will be the best friend of young [and old!] girls forever. I know she will always have a special place in my heart! Happy 10th Anniversary, Jessica Darling..you deserve it! And thanks for all the help growing up!” Beth R., The Secrets In the Telling
I wish I had prizes for these all and entrants. But I don’t. The Runners Up and winners of original Advanced Readers Copies of SLOPPY FIRSTS are… Continue reading Epic Winners! SLOPPY FIRSTS Movie Contest! The 10th Anniversary Celebration Continues!
Jenna P. forwarded this email she originally sent in 2003, adding, “I still tell friends about your series ten years later.”
“I‘d just like to thank you for writing these books. They are just completely awesome (in the true sense of the word.). It is not only what you wrote, but how you wrote it. I loved these books. I had found Sloppy Firsts as a fluke one day in the bookstore. I picked it up and thought it seemed like a good book. I then read it not only once or twice, but three times. Three days ago, I was in the book store, yet again, and as i was walking out, i happened to see Sloppy Firsts on a shelf, with Second Helpings right next to it. As soon as I saw Second Helpings, I almost lost it. I had been waiting and waiting for your next installment of Jessica Darling to come out, and I immediately forgot about the cd that i had originally intended to buy, and bought your book. I just finished it this afternoon. Let me just say, it is a great novel. Really. While I am not still in high school, I still feel I can relate to Jessica in many ways. It has made me think about myself a lot more, and also the decisions I make, so, thank you for that. I laughed and cried. Your work is amazing. You reach out to the readers by making your characters extremely real. Any how, I’m sure you get this all a lot. I just wanted to be cheesy and let you know how I feel.”
I always appreciate readers who take time to express how much my books have meant to them. Then and now.
P.S. You’ve got one more week to enter SLOPPY FIRSTS: The Epic 10th Anniversary Giving Away of Rare and One-of-a-Kind-Stuff. Express your love for SLOPPY FIRSTS and the Jessica Darling series with a clever tweet (tagged #sloppyfirsts10th), blog post, video, song, original artwork….whatever creative form best suits you. Tweet or email a link to your entry by August 22nd. I’ll announce the winners on August 28th.
What an AMAZING start to the SLOPPY FIRSTS 10th Anniversary celebration! Thank you all for your tweets, blog posts, and email, like this one from Annie in Westchester, N.Y. (excerpted with permission):
“Before SLOPPY FIRSTS, I had never met a character that seemed so real to me. Jessica came alive in her diary entries. She was just so much like me…or how I wanted to be. The series quickly became my favorite books of all time. When I was in between books I actually missed Jessica. She was like my fictional best friend, and I wished she were real.
Jessica Darling taught me how to laugh, how to be myself, but most of all, that I’m not alone. That we’re all insecure and frustrated. Your books were my friends when I was lonely and my mentors when I was down. I cannot thank you enough for SLOPPY FIRSTS. The series has truly impacted me as a person and influenced how I view life.”
Keep those tributes coming! (Though I have no idea how I’m going to pick the winners….)
I’m so excited that you’re so excited about SLOPPY FIRSTS: The Epic 10th Anniversary Giving Away of Rare and One-of-A-Kind Stuff. Many of you have already responded with deeply moving stories about discovering my books, like Amanda from Barnegat, N.J.:
“Jessica’s high school experience was the one I wish I had. She screwed up, she lied, hid things, wanted what she shouldn’t want. She had balls in the way I never did. Jessica Darling gave us writers and loners and outcasts of high school a voice. She made all my thoughts more eloquent and more real because I knew someone else felt them. Because I figured that if Jess felt them, so did you at some point, Megan.
SLOPPY FIRSTS saved my life, amused me, made me cry, laugh, mortified me. It summed up a few years of my high school years except more well written and sounding much more glamorous. I’ll always go back to read it and I’ll always be passionate and spread the word.”
What has SLOPPY FIRSTS meant to you? Make a tribute in the form of a blog entry, video, Twitter campaign, song, original artwork or however you best express yourself creatively. Share the link via Twitter, Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org by August 22nd. You could win one of two autographed UNCORRECTED PROOFS of SLOPPY FIRSTS, the Advanced Reader Copies that went out for review before the finished book went on sale. Or you could be the GRAND PRIZE winner of the one-of-a kind annotated edition of SLOPPY FIRSTS that I have personally filled with all sorts of insider info about how the story came to be, including the true inspiration behind the infamous Pineville High Talent Show.
Thanks for celebrating this milestone with me. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
SLOPPY FIRSTS was published on August 28th, 2001. It’s kind of hard to believe when there are new readers just discovering Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie every single day. I’ll be announcing fun ways to celebrate the occasion (i.e., GIVEAWAYS!) throughout the month of August.
And I need your help.
BLOGGERS! If you’re interested in conducting a special 10th Anniversary interview with me on your site, please email questions to email@example.com by Sunday, July 31st. I’ll pick 10 bloggers based on the creativity of the questions and enthusiasm for the series.
I look forward to reading your questions and commemorating this milestone with you, yes, you.