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An Open Book Foundation

Writing the Bitter Truth: A Convo this Week with Rex Ogle

By Appearances, What I'm reading
This Wednesday night, Oct 6 at 8pm, EST, I’ll be in conversation with Rex Ogle. He’s the author of the much-lauded YA memoir, Free Lunch, which was the YALSA 2019 Non-fiction winner. His newest memoir, Punching Bag, which explores abuse, mental illness, and family. Anderson’s Bookstore will be our host. I don’t know Rex, so this is the first time we’ll be speaking together. I’m grateful to meet him during Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month (his mother was of Mexican descent) since mental health is so often a taboo subject in Latinx families. Seeking professional help is not the norm, or even financially feasible, typically. As a result, families under pressure continue their slow simmer with lasting, hurtful effects. As his fans know, Rex’s work cuts close to the bone as he dives into the world of a family that is imploding. My own YA work - Burn Baby Burn and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, has explored similar terrain, except through fiction. It’s fair to say, though, that both of us have chosen writing as a way to make sense of what we actually saw as children and teens. The difference has been the vehicle. Here’s what’s the same, though. When you write a book about painful family life through the eyes of teens, you’re virtually guaranteed some pushback. Adults have a strong distaste for these tales, although we all know that adults often fail young people in big ways and small. What follows is an urge to shame...
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Beyond Books: Creative ways an author can support you

By Community work, The Writing Life
As authors, we're often asked to support a variety of causes, usually related to reading and literacy. I'm always happy to do it, if I can. Frequently, this means providing signed copies of my books. But it's fun when you can bust out of the model. Here are two examples of unique ways to support your favorite book organization. Recently, I supported the Richmond Young Writers whose mission is to spark youth voices through creative writing. For their annual auction, I donated naming a character in the final installment of my Merci Suárez series. That's why, book three will have a sixth grade soccer dynamo named Robin Farmer in the pages. In real life, Robin, who had the winning bid, is a Richmond author, who has been a huge supporter of the literary arts in Richmond, where we both live. I'm thrilled to be able to do this. Talking about Merci Suárez Changes Gears at Takoma Education Campus in Washington, DC On Wednesday night, I will host a zoom story time with a family all the way across the country, in California. This creative idea came from a children's literacy organization with which I often partner - An Open Book Foundation. This team works hard to connect "authors, illustrators, and their books with Washington, DC-area students to build equitable access and nurture a lifelong love of reading." Check out this short video celebration of their 10 years with a sample of their work and a few words from me. Mia...
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Events! Events! Events! Join me in Las Vegas, New York City or Washington DC

By Appearances, Awards and news, middle grade, The Writing Life, young adult

I’ve recently had several glorious weeks filled with family, local friends, beautiful spring weather and time to write. It’s been wonderful. BUT, I will be hitting the road again soon and I so hope to see you in one of my upcoming events. If you’re near Las Vegas on May 29th and 30th, join Padma Venkatraman, Phil Bildner and me at the 2019 Summit on Teaching YA Literature at the University of Nevada. Next up, I’ll be jetting to New York City for this year’s ever-popular BookCon on June 1st! Join Tracey Baptiste, Soman Chainani, Raina Telgemeier and me for a conversation about the very best in middle grade. Soon after, I will be in the best company with my friends and well-respected authors Elizabeth Acevedo and Robin Benway for an evening conversation at Politics & Prose Bookstore at the Wharf. We’ll chat about our writing and how our personal experiences and recent awards have influenced our work. See you there? Check out my calendar of events for more details and other upcoming dates. Until then, I’ll have my head down working and enjoying my family and, of course, taking long walks with Hugo.    

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School visits: An Open Book Literacy Foundation

By Appearances, Community work

Back to DC, one of my favorite cities, this time thanks to An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation which gives Title 1 schools in the District access to books and authors. (Feeling charitable this season?  They make an excellent choice for your philanthropy.) So, it’s second graders and eighth graders for me today. I think we’ll make our own “Tía Isa” cars out of foam with the younger ones, since this gives me a chance to channel my inner craft geek. (I can’t help it. I love office supplies and the smell of Elmers Glue). Thrilled also to start a new Hope Tree in the DC area with the older guys. Raymond Education Center, here I come!

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