readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

rgz LIVE! with Janet Lee Carey

Welcome everyone to an hour of fantasy and enchantment with author Janet Lee Carey and her new book STEALING DEATH. The chat will go magically live at 6:00 Pacific Time.

September: Roundup for Graceling

And here's the roundup of Hot Topics, all things Kristin!

September Newsflash
Welcome, Kristin!
postergirlz' recommended reads
Our thanks!


Identity Crisis
Breaking the rules
Mind readers
Things you can't control
Fantasy Worlds
Secondary Characters
Which character would you be?
Final thoughts

Have you weighed in? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Thank you, Kristin!

Chat tonight with Janet Lee Carey!

Don't forget to come back this evening, 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern for a chat with readergirlz co-founder and author of STEALING DEATH, Janet Lee Carey!

See you tonight!

The Mind of a Girl - Thomas Randall

Guest blog by Thomas Randall, author of The Waking: Dreams of the Dead

I don't presume to know the mind of a girl. That's the key, I think, to being a man and writing from a female perspective. There is no formula I apply to figuring out what to write, what her thoughts are, what she might say or do in a given situation. Any guy who writes about female characters really has only one chance at doing it right, only one trick in the bag: osmosis. I've been told I write girls well. I have no idea whether or not this is true, as I am not a girl. I wouldn't presume (there's that word again) to make any such claims. But if it's true--if the women and girls who've told me that aren't just being nice in the way that the friends and families of so many doomed, deluded, and eventually humiliated American Idol contestants tell them they can sing--then osmosis is the only explanation I can come up with.

I suppose I've absorbed a certain amount of awareness of "girl-think" over the years, but it doesn't feel like anything I actually KNOW. It feels like instinct, to me. If that's true, there are a lot of women I should thank for that.

My parents were divorced when I was young, but even before that, my father wasn't around very much. My brother and I were raised by our mother and frequently left in the care of our sister, which meant we were surrounded by her many girlfriends almost constantly. Two of her best friends were straight. I've joked many times over the years that I was raised by a passel of lesbians. While it isn't true that they raised me, my sister and all of her friends--straight and gay--and my mother, of course, had a huge influence on me. From a very young age, being so constantly surrounded by girls made me far more comfortable with them than I was with guys. As I passed through middle and high school, I always had a girlfriend, but I was also THAT GUY, the one in all of the 80s movies, who the girls would tell their problems and ask for advice about other guys. It didn't seem odd to me at the time that I had such close relationships with girls, but looking back on it in later years, I realize some of my male friends probably thought I was some alien creature.

Even now, I am always more at ease communicating with women than with men. There's so much swagger when you get a bunch of guys in a room, so much bluster, and I have no patience for that. There's a wisdom that comes with maturity, and it seems to me that girls acquire that a lot faster than boys. Some men never find it.

So, does all of that mean I know how to write from a female perspective? Nahhh.

The truth is, I don't ever--ever--think about it. I don't hesitate or worry that I've somehow entered alien territory just because I've got to put thoughts in the head or words in the mouth of a female character. If my female characters are strong, intelligent, gutsy girls, I think that's more a testament to the girls and women I've known in my life than it is to my skill as a writer. If my female characters--like Kara Harper in THE WAKING: DREAMS OF THE DEAD--are smarter and wiser than the boys, tough and capable and full of love all at the same time, there are a lot of women I should thank for that, including my wife and my sister and my mother, and so many friends from my youth and from adulthood, doctors and lawyers and teachers, writers and artists and moms.

I lied to you before, just a little. It's true that I don't think about writing from a female perspective as a challenge...but I do think of it as a responsibility. There are enough girls in fiction who set a poor example. If there are guys reading my books, I want to make sure that they see girls the way *I* see them. And for the female readers...well, I'd love them to see themselves through my eyes as well, so they'll never underestimate how amazing they can be.

I don't presume to know the mind of a girl. But I don't mind giving them a peek inside mine.

- TR

To learn more about The Waking series and the just-released first book, Dreams of the Dead, visit ThomasRandall.net and follow the blog tour:

Monday, September 28th: An interview with Little Willow at Bildungsroman
Tuesday, September 29th: Author Q&A with Courtney Summers
Wednesday, September 30th: Guest blog about writing from the female POV right here at readergirlz
Thursday, October 1st: A guest blog about researching Japanese culture at lectitans
Friday, October 2nd: Q&A at Sarah's Random Musings
Friday, October 2nd: An interview at Steph Su Reads
Monday, October 5th: A guest blog about writing mysteries at Books By Their Cover
Tuesday, October 6th: Q&A with Kim Baccellia
Tuesday, October 6th: An interview with BookChic
Wednesday, October 7th: An interview at Presenting Lenore
Thursday, October 8th: Special post for Michelle at GalleySmith
Friday, October 9th: Last stop with Kelsey at Just Blinded Book Reviews

Thank you, Kristin Cashore!

Here's a big MERCI to the amazing Kristin Cashore for joining us at readergirlz this month! Things we learned about Kristin include:

1. She did a LOT of martial arts research to write the fighting sequences in her books, and it shows (they're great!!).
2. Of her characters, Kristin relates most to Bitterblue, a real girl. Well, a Princess too. :)
3. She's touring soon! Find the info here.

We had so much fun this month! And we cannot wait for FIRE and the upcoming BITTERBLUE!

Thank you, Kristin!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the rgz nonprofit team

Did you know rgz is operated by volunteers? The community is a nonprofit entity currently funded by grants and staff donations. Actually, the co-founders each took a year away from their own writing to launch this effort for teen literacy.

So, who are the team players? Here's a list of our current 25 contributors. (For a description of roles click here.)

rgz co-founders and YA authors:
Lorie Ann Grover: program manager
Dia Calhoun: program facilitator
Justina Chen: program consultant

divas and YA authors:
Holly Cupala: visual design, secretary
Melissa Walker: blogger

Little Willow: leader and webdiva
Miss Erin
Shelf Elf

rgz PR specialist: Sara Easterly

rgz media specialist: Martha Brockenbrough, treasurer

rgz SCOUT:
Mitali Perkins

rgz Seattle HOST: Liz Gallagher

rgz SALON:
Nancy Pearl
Sharon Levin
Judy Nelson
Rene Kirkpatrick
Lyn Miller-Lachmann

rgz Street Team:
Miss Erin: leader

Thanks to each one who volunteers her time to help operate our award winning community. Together we'll continue to read, reflect, and reach out for you!

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Your recommends: Fall 2009

Okay, rgz. We used to run this thread over at the MySpace forum, and it was a great resource! Let's try it here.

Leave your comments and tell us what you are reading. What do you find is a must read this season?

I'll hotlink this entry in the top left panel so we can continue to access it and add to it.

Here are my latest thanks to Goodreads:

The Sweet Far Thing The Indigo Notebook ImpossibleDevil's Kiss Girl to the CoreThe Reformed Vampire Support GroupSo Punk Rock: And Other Ways to Disappoint Your MotherHeartsingerGracelingStory: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of ScreenwritingFlora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous ButlersShiverSame DifferenceThe Name of this Book is SecretBrushing Mom's HairBlinkThe Complete PersepolisThe Secret Life of Prince CharmingStealing Death

How about you?

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Final Thoughts on Graceling?

We've had such fun with the discussion questions this month! Find them all in the sidebar on the right. Any final thoughts on Graceling? Dreams for Katsa, Poe or Bitterblue?

Get ready for the Cybils!

It's that time of year again, time for the CYBILS, Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards 2009!

An impressive crop of kidlit bloggers has come together to make this event happen, including many of the terrific folks we met at last year's kidlit blogger conference (click here for info on this year's conference, November in D.C.) as well as friend, librarian, and rgz postergirl Jackie Parker of Interactive Reader in charge of the YA Fiction category!

Nominations for this year's Cybil awards are open October 1 - 15. Check out the Cybils site for full info on categories, judges, and the 2008 winners. Then on Thursday, go nominate your favorite kidlit books of 2009!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Author in Residence Beth Kephart: The Story Song Challenge

Our very first Author in Residence, Beth Kephart, is a critically acclaimed, gracious writer who will be on the rgz team through December. Check out her mini-issue at the rgz website. Welcome this author of HOUSE OF DANCE, UNDERCOVER, and NOTHING BUT GHOSTS!

Last month's winning entries have been published on Beth's blog, so go read the lovely words of Jennifer Petro-Roy, Erin McIntosh and Lauren Miller!

Here is the second of Beth’s monthly entries about writing:

"For the second readergirlz contest, I've chosen a topic close to my heart—choreography—and called it The Story Song. Please find the details below:

"I read books to meet new characters, to go new places, and to find out what happens. I also read to learn how the author has chosen to choreograph the narrative. Is it a straight-forward telling, or a book that turns round on itself? Does the story speed up and slow down, are there embedded refrains, which themes recur, which details, and why? Watch this video (below), then share with me one of your own poems or short (up to ten lines) pieces of writing. Tell me, with your submission, just how you thought about the piece as lyric. What, in other words, was your choreographic strategy?

"Send your entry to me at kephartblogATcomcastDOTnet by October 25, 2009. The author of the winning paragraph will receive a signed copy of House of Dance, a novel about a young girl who, in taking care of her dying grandfather and learning about the life he once lived, decides to offer him one final gift. The winning work will also be posted on my blog."

Good luck, readergirlz!

STEALING DEATH chat this Wednesday!

Get ready for a special event rgz LIVE! chat with readergirlz co-founder and YA fantasy author Janet Lee Carey!

Janet has been hard at work on several new fantasy novels since her time at readergirlz - STEALING DEATH was on the premier launch list of new-to-the-States publisher, Egmont USA. Congratulations, Janet!

See you Wednesday for the chat, September 30th at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern!

Graceling: The Book Party!

Planning your own book group/get-together for Graceling? Here are some party ideas from author Kristin Cashore.

Invite: Design something that incorporate swords, daggers, and two-colored eyes.

Food: Hm. Go out and catch your own mountain lion? No? How about homemade bread, cheese, and fresh fruit.

Décor: Two-colored eyeshadow and medieval garb.

Movies: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Buffy the Vampire Slayer (okay, I'm cheating, that’s a TV show, not a movie - but it is disturbingly hard to find movie girls who are both kick-ass and self-reliant!); Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (an anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Amber Kizer's MERIDIAN Release Party!

Greetings, Readergirlz! I'm writing to you on a gorgeously sunny Seattle day (odd for fall!), fresh from last night's big party at Barnes & Noble Alderwood. It was Amber Kizer's night to celebrate her latest release, Meridian!

Amber's party was also a benefit for South Whidbey
Schools Foundation to support the education of kids and teens on the gorgeous island Amber calls home.

Here's Amber with her mom, Rachel, an amazing teacher in the South Whidbey system.

The party was full of excitement: musical performances from South Whidbey students, an art show with work from elementary through high school levels, a chance to buy wish-list books for teachers.

There was a very special visitor for the younger kids:

Amber with her pal Corduroy!

The decorations were amazing. Meridian-themed angel wings hung everywhere, an amazing archway was decorated in the cover's red and black theme with twinkle lights.

Amber supplied plenty of things to do, too, like makinig bookmarks and other goodies out of beads, and getting "tattooed" with an array of temporary tats,
including some featuring the cover of Meridian!

Check out the eats:

Before Meridian discovers the full nature of her special abilities, all she knows is that animals often die around her. Note the roadkill candy!

It was soon time for Amber to read, and she treated us to the tantalizing prologue, where we meet Meridian Sozu.

During Q&A, Amber shared the inspiration for the book: What if the light people see while they're dying . . . was a girl?

She also told us that "Fenestra," the word she uses for such a girl, comes from the Latin word meaning "window". As in a window between this world and the next.
Amber signed books, of course.

And I took my now-traditional pic with the author!

Teachers: if you'll be at the NCTE/ALAN conference this fall in Philadelphia, Amber, Rachel, author Lara Zeises, and I would love to see you at our panel discussion on Gutsy Girls in YA lit!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers by Deborah Reber, this month's non-fiction recommended read (For the full list, check out this month's issue and read the post about this month's recommendations!)

For Your Younger Siblings
Pip, the Story of Olive by Kim Kane

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Friday, September 25, 2009

How do we choose books at rgz?


This is a question often asked of the divas. How are books chosen to be featured? Let me give you a run down.

Here are our lines of input:

* Everyone on the rgz team is busy reading year round.
* In December, our postergirlz individually submit their top ten reads of the year to the divas.
* Throughout the months, the postergirlz also alert us the minute they finish a most amazing book.
* Mitali Perkins, our rgz SCOUT, watches the reviews of the most current titles, and she has those works sent to the divas a.s.a.p.
* The rgz Street Team posts their reviews.
* The rgz SALON contributes from their reads.
* The divas watch the blog comments to see what our rgz are talking about and recommending themselves.

Considering all the above, the divas select books that reflect strong female protagonists. We make every effort to represent a broad perspective:

* multicultural titles,
* various socioeconomic circumstances,
* the overlooked, quiet literary works,
* and the commercial successes that everyone is excited about.

We then reach out to see if an author's schedule can accommodate the rgz monthly commitment.

Once the features are booked, the postergirlz are alerted, and collectively they work to suggest the most excellent companion reads to equally accompany the feature. They always include a nonfiction title, as well, in their monthly recommended reads.

That's pretty much the process. A beautiful synergy to bring you the very best in young adult literature!

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rgz manifesta


Just so you know, here's our official readergirlz manifesta: what we stand for, what we believe, what we promise YOU:

* readergirlz is about having serious fun while talking about books with the author and your friends!

* readergirlz is about getting the inside scoop about why the novel was written, the tears and joys and real-world angst that the author has lived and layered into her story.

* readergirlz is about reading great books to get to know yourself, your friends, and yes, even your mother, better.

* readergirlz is about celebrating strong girls in books who've got the guts to dream.

* readergirlz is about reaching out to others based on what you've read.

* And most of all, readergirlz is about inspiring girls to make history of their own!

Quotable: A Sweet Far Thing


Ha! I thought to start a series of posts of quotes that jump out at me as I'm reading. Maybe the other divas will play, too!

Right now, I'm zooming through A Sweet Far Thing for the second time to prepare for October, and here's what hit my heart:

"Absence is a curious thing. When friends are absent they seem to loom ever larger, till the lack of them is all one can feel. Now that Ann has left, the room is too big. Try as I might, I cannot fill the space that remains."

I missing my daughter at college!

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