Field Trip Friday: March 27, 2015


- Our girl Steph has a new two-book deal with Dutton. Congrats, Steph!


- Author Jenny Martin provides some really great advice for strugging writers (aka all of us, at one time or another!)

-George R. R. Martin adorably does not understand the concept of spoilers. Come on, George! 


- So there's this app called Clean Reader, and it's the most ridiculous thing ever. You don't have to look far to find backlash against it, but here's a post from Lilith Saintcrow and another from Chuck Wendig about it.

- Deadline posted a ridiculous article about whether an increased diversity in TV casting is 'too much of a good thing', and people were - rightfully - furious about it. Shonda Rhimes' tweet on the article was succinct and perfect.


- This blog post thoroughly and neutrally summarizes the Andrew Smith situation that's had the YA community abuzz for the past couple weeks.

- Stacked has had a series of incredibly rad guest posts this week in a series called 'About The Girls'.


- Sarah linked this on last week's FTF, but I'm leaving it on this week's because it's worth seeing again: #ToTheGirls is a campaign that will be held April 14, 2015. From organizer, YA author Courtney Summers: "On April 14th, 2015, take the opportunity to tell the girls you know—and the ones you don’t—that they are seen, heard and loved. Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours. Use the hashtag #ToTheGirls along with your personal message of support and encouragement across your social media platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram etc)."

- New ad campaigns are using thought-provoking images to make a point about gender equality.

- As a woman who is super into video games, I've been keeping tabs on "GamerGate". Here's an article from Salon on new ways that bitter trolls are attempting to shut down diversity: targeting new comics.

- A great article on the importance of female action figures. Because being super cool warriors is not just for boys!

- I am not particularly emotionally invested in this situation myself, but people seem to be upset about Zayn leaving One Direction.

- But in better news, the season five Game of Thrones live premiere occurred this week and people who got to go seemed to like it. (The rest of us can watch it April 12th. SO EXCITED!)


- This Voldemort 'Uptown Funk' remix was all over the internet this week. Enjoy!

Stephanie Kuehn's Next Two Novels Sell to Dutton!

We are so, so, SO excited to celebrate talented YA Highway blogger Stephanie Kuehn's exciting new book deal! From Publisher's Weekly:

Andrew Karre at Dutton has acquired Stephanie Kuehn's The Pragmatist and an unnamed second YA novel. In the first book, 17-year-old Arman is grasping for any distraction from his terrible health and his disastrous family, and follows charismatic spiritual advisor Beauregard to his wilderness retreat. But things go from strange to bizarre once they arrive at the compound, and Armen's focus switches from self-actualization to self-preservation. It's scheduled for publication in summer 2016; Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich brokered the deal.
Way to go, Steph, we are proud of you!

And so is this guy.

Road Trip Wednesday: March 25, 2015

Spring Break! It's party time! Or... catch up on homework and sleep for a week time, but either way, it's here and we're glad.

So this week, share your favorite YA spring break books and/or your best real-life YA spring break stories! 

Use the hashtag #RoadTripWednesday on Twitter, or leave a comment, and we'll do our best to share all the responses.

Guest Post: WRITTEN IN THE STARS author Aisha Saeed on Arranged Marriages 101

We are delighted to have Aisha Saeed, author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS, which released today, visiting the blog. Her post--and beautiful book--relays important information about arranged marriages and how they differ from forced marriages. You also have the chance to win a copy of WRITTEN IN THE STARS! Enter using the rafflecoptor form below. Thank you for chatting with us, Aisha!

The 101 on Arranged Marriages

When Written in the Stars opens, seventeen-year-old Naila’s life is right on track: she has a boyfriend she loves and she just found out she’s going away to college on a full scholarship. This means in just a few short months, she’ll be living in a dorm with her best friend Carla and she won’t have to hide her relationship with Saif anymore. Naila is ecstatic–but her world is turned upside down when her parents discover her secret relationship and force her into a marriage against her will. While forced marriages are a real and pressing problem, they are not synonymous with arranged marriages. The truth is there are different types of arranged marriages and some are the sort that people [including me!] enter into not just willingly but happily. Below are the three most common arranged marriage situations.

Forced Marriage: A forced marriage is when either the groom or the bride [or both] are being pressured, coerced, or outright forced into marrying each another. Forced marriages are a global problem and condemned by every nation and religion on the planet. Forced marriages are never okay. 

Arranged Marriages: Though definitely not the case anymore, once upon a time, arranged marriages were the norm the world over. Arranged marriages are how most of my parents’ generation got married in India and Pakistan. In an arranged marriage, the bride’s parents get a proposal from the groom’s family. Sometimes the prospective bride and groom have one or two meetings; sometimes they just see a photo of each other, and sometimes they never meet until their wedding day. In this traditional type of arranged marriage, the parents of the bride and groom consider the pros and cons of the marital union and then the parents make a decision. The couple is fine with this arrangement and no one is forced to say yes. In my novel, Naila’s mother tells her she never met Naila’s father until their wedding day. Naila’s mother was perfectly fine with this arrangement and trusted her parents had chosen well. She couldn’t understand why Naila would not be fine with a similar arrangement. My own mother-in-law married my father-in-law under similar circumstances and was fine with her arranged marriage; it simply was how it was done where they grew up. Arranged marriages like this do still happen overseas, in the United States, among second and third generation South Asians, etc., it’s no longer the norm.

Arranged Introduction a.k.a. Semi-arranged marriage: This is a subset of arranged marriages and while they can take different forms it is far and away the most typical arranged marriage situation you’ll see, especially in the United States, Canada, and other western countries. In a semi-arranged marriage, the couple is usually introduced with the blessings of their parents but they get to know each other and decide on their own whether or not to tie the knot. This is more of a blind date set-up than anything else. Some people get to know each other a few weeks or months before deciding to get married; others date each other for years first. Of course, because the couple was introduced for the purpose of marriage, the prospect of this commitment is usually at the forefront of their minds as they get to know each other and/or date. Parents are still typically involved in the process, though they are there to give advice rather than to decide if a marriage will or will not happen.

I myself had a semi-arranged marriage. My mother suggested I meet a young man she had heard great things about, and I agreed. Twelve years of marriage later, it’s still the best decision I’ve ever made. Unlike my own situation, forced marriages are never okay. This is why I was inspired to write Written in the Stars. I hope the story will capture the interest of those who read it, bring awareness to a global issue, and help anyone who is at risk for such a marriage themselves to stand up for themselves and know that saying no is not just an option but their right.

If you or someone you know is feeling pressured to enter into a marriage against your will, please don’t wait, get in touch with someone who can help:

Tahiri Justice Center Website: E-mail:

Unchained At Last Website: E-mail: 

Enter to win your copy of WRITTEN IN THE STARS here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

And check out the rest of Aisha's posts in her WRITTEN IN THE STARS blog tour:
IceyBooks – 3/25
Jessabella Reads – 3/26
Alice Marvels – 3/27
Pandora’s Books – 3/31
Pop! Goes the Reader – 4/2
The Young Folks – 4/6
Forever Young Adult – 4/7
Cuddlebuggery – 4/8
Perpetual Page Turner – 4/9
The YA Bookworm – 4/13

Let's Talk About Love, Baby.

Quick. Has this happened to you? I want your knee jerk answers! ;P 

You're out somewhere, the grocery or a bookstore or at a gas station, and you see someone who immediately catches your eye. Your brain goes, DAYUM, and you get a little sweaty palmed staring at them. This person hits all your buttons without even trying. You get all fluttery inside while sidling up next to them next to the green peppers or Great Expectations.


Is that love?

Nah. But it *is* something. And that something gets a bad rap a lot of times.

OMG, please not with the insta-love. Gag. Hork. Ugh.

Nope, I’m talking about insta-LUST today.

I think a lot of times insta-lust gets mistaken for insta-love, which is a hot topic of epic proportions. I tend to agree more than disagree there. The stories where two characters meet and within a week of barely any interaction, declare they love each other more than life? Yeah, I do a little eye rolling.

Free use image from Photobucket
BUT when two characters meet and the chemistry is off the charts and they get together based on that chemistry. Insta-lust. And yeah, I get that. I love that! There is nothing quite like the chemistry between people. It makes your heart pound and your pulse race and makes you wonder how good they kiss while you stare at their lips. You think, breath, eat this person. You can’t get them out of your mind. You want to be with them every second of the day.

I remember doing this in high school. Seeing a really cute guy walking down the hallway and thinking, “Damn, I’m in love.” I’d never even talked to him before and here I was planning our wedding. (Okay not quite but still) Going out of my way just to look at him between classes, or secretly doodling my name with his last name, just to see how they looked together? Yes, I did all that. Hey I was 16. But then something happened. The guy noticed me and…he was nothing like I imagined. That feeling died pretty fast and I moved on.

Was it love? No way. Was there something there I was attracted too? Hell yes. Are they the same? No way. (Disclaimer: you can in fact be attracted to someone and end up in love. Not saying that at all. The first time I saw a picture of my husband, I told my friend I was going to marry him. I didn’t even know his name at the time but I knew I was attracted to him. We’ve been married almost 17 years.) But without that initial attraction, I never would have pursued getting to know him.

The next time you read a book and you start to roll your eyes because ugh, insta-love, that is not realistic at all, stop and take a step back. Is it *really* insta-love or are you witnessing a physical, very real reaction between two characters?  If that initial attraction allows them to get together, to then get to know each other and fall in love, that’s romantic. That’s real.

At least I think it is. ;P How about you? :)

Field Trip Friday: March 22, 2015

Many, many apologies for being tardy in this Field Trip, Highwayers! Thanks so much to those of you who let us know you were missing it.


- Children's author Zetta Elliott discusses the discrimination and outright racism that first led her to self-publish her work and then exposed her to criticism about her choice. "The marginalization of writers of color is the result of very deliberate decisions made by gatekeepers within the children’s literature community—editors, agents, librarians, and reviewers," she writes. "These decisions place insurmountable barriers in the path of far too many talented writers of color."

- Shannon Hale's experience of--and viral blog post about--being asked to speak only to girls at school visits is covered by Julie Zellinger in Mic. Hale and fellow author Peggy Orenstein say that boys being held back from experiencing the stories of women is perpetuating sexism, and hurting the boys nearly as much as girls: "It's almost like boys grow up with the old culture but we've given girls a new culture to grow up with and we're expecting that to somehow integrate," Orenstein told Mic.

- The son of a poet, memoir writer Dikkon Eberhart saw growing up how stark the split can be between what the author intended with his or her work, and how readers interpret it.


- Negative or reductive portrayals of Native Americans in books, movies and other media can be nearly as damaging as no representation at all, writer Jessica McDonald says in a blog post. "There’s a danger when you don’t see yourself represented in your culture’s art; there’s an even greater danger when your onlyrepresentation is fraught with negative messaging and teaches you that you do not belong in this world. You’re a thing of the past, a ghost, a myth," she writes.


- The always-brilliant Sarah McCarry wrote a great piece getting at exactly what is important about the conversation of sexism surrounding Andrew Smith's comments to Vice magazine and the "kindness" campaign that followed: "Kindness," likewise, is posited as an easily defined commodity of exchange that somehow circulates independently of power relations within the community wherein it is traded: but whose kindness, exactly, are we talking about here? Who is afforded the benefit of this kindness, and for whom is “kindness” an unattainable luxury?"

- Artist Ronald Wimberly wrote about being asked by a comic book editor to specifically "lighten" the skin of a POC character -- after never hearing a peep when alternating the shade of She-Hulk's green skin.

- The creators of Emily's Books have started a Kickstarter! Subscribing now can help the site expand into the publishing realm, and in many other ways grow to become "bigger, better, and bookier!"


- #ToTheGirls is a campaign that will be held April 14, 2015. From organizer, YA author Courtney Summers: "On April 14th, 2015, take the opportunity to tell the girls you know—and the ones you don’t—that they are seen, heard and loved. Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours. Use the hashtag #ToTheGirls along with your personal message of support and encouragement across your social media platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram etc)."

- Actress and Kentucky basketball fan Ashley Judd was treated to a cavalcade of sexist and threatening tweets after she made a comment online about her team during the NCAA March Madness tournament this week. Wish that was more surprising.

- To raise awareness of gender pay inqeuality, one Utah high school held a bake sale and charged male students $1.00 per cookie, where women were only charged $0.77. Nothing makes equal pay more real than cookies!

- Going to a writing conference and looking to use Twitter there? Here are some tips! (Though we Highwayers have disagreed on whether manual retweeting is actually rude or not.)

- The campaign to get a woman on the U.S.'s $20 bill has gotten lots of attention, but Autostraddle reminds us of some badass ladies who have already been featured on money across the globe.

- Finally! More details on the Welcome to Night Vale novel!!

- Only 46% of mobile app games offer an identifiably female character for its players, according to a study by 6th grader Madeline Messer.


- NPR is asking listeners to nominate their favorite episodes of any podcast! We recommend eps from Black Girl Nerds, Clear Eyes Full Shelves, Minorities in Publishing, and First Draft podcasts!

- INSURGENT is out this week!! Go see it! (And speaking of First Draft, you can listen to Veronica Roth's interview here!)

#ScaryYAH: Two Sentence Horror Story #3

Happy Sunday, Spookies!!

Welcome to the third round of Two Sentence Horror Story. This feature was inspired by a fun flurry of posts last year all across the internet that displayed brilliant (and very creepy) stories that were only two sentences in length, total.

Prize Schedule:

Every single participant of the game is automatically entered to win a prize for the three times a year when names will be randomly drawn. The remaining dates are:

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 (in honor of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos)

Friday the 13th (of November) 2015

The more you participate, the higher a chance you have of winning! Prizes will include things ranging from scary books to DVDs to horror trinkets guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

How To Play:

Every month, Amy or I will post a photo prompt to inspire your two sentence horror story. Once you have yours ready to go, you can either:

a) Post it in the comments below
b) Tweet your two sentence horror story (if it fits!) with the hashtag #ScaryYAH
c) Post the story on Tumblr and tag it with #ScaryYAH

Every month, we will post our favorite entry from the previous round. Winners will get an additional entry for a prize on top of their participant entry. Pretty straight forward, right? We are so excited to read, retweet, and reblog your entries!

Our favorite entry from last month came from @dillonac on twitter, here.


This Week's Prompt:
Amy's entry: "He walked for days, even though the sun never went down and the scenery never changed. When he saw the house ahead, shrouded with shrieking birds, he knew his reckoning had come at last."

Kaitlin's entry: "The house loomed, familiar, before him, as it had every time he'd come to look at it. Rumors said that no one who enters ever leaves, and the time had come to find out if it was true."

Your turn!