Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm With The Banned

So, I was browsing CafePress last week and came across some amazing Banned Books Week gear. I know Banned Books Week is drawing to a close, but I'm going to share these with you anyway, because we don't need a special week to celebrate our freedom to read. 

I'm With the Banned Tee Banned Books Tee
Ban Ignorance Tote Bag Burn a Book 2.25" Button

I ended up ordering this t-shirt:
Offend Everyone (pink) Shirt
Perfect, no? I even paid extra for faster shipping so I would get it in time to wear to school for Banned Books Week, but, alas, it's Thursday night and the package didn't get here. No special Banned Books Week shirt for me. Oh well, I will still be celebrating my freedom to read on Monday. (I just wish I could get a refund on that shipping.)

I also picked up this little goody:
DFTBA - Shirt
Yeah, I'm a nerdfighter. Proud of it.

Then, of course, I had to look up some writing designs. Look how fun these are! I'll have to keep these in mind for my next order.

"Speak Freely" Sticker  Pre-published T-Shirt
Buy My Book Tote Bag Typewriter Tee
Word Nerd Tee Blank Page Mini Button
Writer's Block Tote Bag "Revise" Shirt

Even without a t-shirt, I was able to talk about Banned Books Week a lot with my class, which was a lot of fun. And now with the t-shirt I can prompt more conversation all year long.  

What did you do to bring awareness to Banned Books Week? And what do you think about these awesome writing designs from CafePress? (Next time you need to kill an hour or seven, go check out that site. I swear, your cart will be full in mere minutes.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Tunes (1)

I'm one of those people who is ALL ABOUT music. Music inspires me in every aspect of my life, and that includes my writing. Sometimes it's the story of a song that has an impact on me, sometimes it's just a special line, and sometimes it's something as subtle as the tone of the lyrics.

So I figured I would start a little feature here on this new blog where I share songs that I love for whatever reason...inspiration, motivation, or just plain inexplicable love.

I decided to kick off this music feature today with the song that inspired my WIP.

Sic Transit Gloria by Brand New (from the Deja Entendu album)

I love Brand New. They are one of my very favorite bands, and I really can't get enough of this album. Sic Transit Gloria is the second track on Deja, but the first full song.

What I love about this song, and what inspired my WIP, is the story. I was listening to it one night and I thought, how interesting...the girl is the sexual aggressor in this song, and the guy goes along with it, even though he really doesn't want to, because he's the guy and he's supposed to. I thought this was such an interesting situation, and one that I haven't really read too much about. We hear so much about the guys being the ones who push the girls into sex, but what if the roles were reversed? What if it was the girl who pushed the guy into it? What if he was the one who was scared and insecure and wanted more from the relationship?

So my WIP was born. When I wrote the original draft back during NaNoWriMo 2008, this plot element was the entire focus of the story. Now that I have revised the crap out of it, the story has evolved, and the characters have become so much more. Now it hardly resembles the original NaNo draft, and the situation originally inspired by the lyrics has changed so much that it really has little to do with the song anymore. (Isn't that how all of our ideas go? Oh, the evolution of our much fun.)

So, even though this song hardly has anything to do with my story anymore, thanks to my many drafts, it's what gave birth to my characters, it's where they started, and I can't hear it without thinking of them and picturing them in this situation. (I picture the PG-13 version, though. I'm no perv.)

Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades) - Brand New

Keep the noise low.
She doesn't wanna blow it.
Shaking head to toe
while your left hand does the "show me around."
Quickens your heartbeat.
It beats me straight into the ground.

You don't recover from a night like this.
A victim, still lying in bed, completely motionless.
A hand moves in the dark to a zipper.
Hear a boy bracing tight against sheets
barely whisper, "This is so messed up."

Upon arrival the guests had all stared.
Dripping wet and clearly depressed,
he'd headed straight for the stairs.
No longer cool, but a boy in a stitch,
unprepared for a life full of lies and failing relationships.

(Up the stairs: the station where
the act becomes the art of growing up.)

He keeps his hands low.
He doesn't wanna blow it.
He's wet from head to toe and
his eyes give her the up and the down.
His stomach turns and he thinks of throwing up.
But the body on the bed beckons forward
and he starts growing up.

The fever, the focus.
The reasons that I had to believe you weren't too hard to sell.
Die young and save yourself.
The tickle, the taste of...
It used to be the reason I breathed but now it's choking me up.
Die young and save yourself.

She hits the lights.
This doesn't seem quite fair.
Despite everything he learned from his friends,
he doesn't feel so prepared.
She's breathing quiet and smooth.
He's gasping for air.
"This is the first and last time," he says.
She fakes a smile and presses her hips into his.
He keeps his hands pinned down at his sides.
He's holding back from telling her
exactly what it really feels like.

He is the lamb, she is the slaughter.
She's moving way too fast and all he wanted was to hold her.
Nothing that he tells her is really having an effect.
He whispers that he loves her,
but she's probably only looking for s...

(Up the stairs: the station where
the act becomes the art of growing up.)

So much more than he could ever give.
A life free of lies and a meaningful relationship.
He keeps his hands pinned down at his sides.
He waits for it to end
and for the aching in his guts to subside.

The fever, the focus.
The reasons that I had to believe you weren't too hard to sell.
Die young and save yourself.
The tickle, the taste of...
It used to be the reason I breathed but now it's choking me up.
Die young and save yourself.

Up the stairs: the station where
the act becomes the art of growing up.

The fever, the focus.
The reasons that I had to believe you weren't too hard to sell.
Die young and save yourself.
The tickle, the taste of...
It used to be the reason I breathed but now it's choking me up.
Die young and save yourself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's My Birthday!

I'm such a birthday person. I always have been. I thought I might easing up on the birthday celebrations as I got older (and once I passed a certain milestone birthday that brought quite a bit of chagrin), but the truth is...once and attention whore, always an attention whore. Even if I am getting old, I can't turn off the desire to be in the spotlight.

This weekend I got to hang out with my bff (she lives on the East Coast, so this doesn't happen as often as either of us like), I got to have a yummy dinner, go out for fun drinks at an Irish bar with my friends, and then the big excitement is Vampire Weekend at the Hollywood Bowl! (Yeah, the writing is taking a back seat this weekend, but every now and then you need to go out and party, right?)

Anyway, to further celebrate my birthday, and to celebrate my new blog and you nice people who have decided to follow me, I'm going to give away a present! Yay!

I have the Awesome Grab Bag O' Signed Books, and the winner can reach in and grab the signed book of his or her choice! There are currently five sekrit YA books in the Awesome Grab Bag O' Signed Books, but they aren't too difficult to identify if you are a stalker and follow all of the book signings I go to. If you are new to my world, well, it will be a fun surprise! We all love birthday surprises, right?

Here's all you have to do:

  • Be a follower (I don't have very many yet, so your chances look very good)
  • Leave a comment on this post.
That's it! (I usually hate giving extra entries for being obnoxious all over the internet, but I think I will give you an extra entry if you Tweet or otherwise publicly link to this. Just leave me the link in the comments. And I'll probably never do this again.) The giveaway will be open until Sunday, Oct. 3rd. I'll select the winner using

So, are you a birthday person or not? Do you still celebrate? Or do you pretend it didn't happen?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Being Good

We've all heard the phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none." That's me FOR SURE. I have always felt like this, actually. I dabble in things here and there, I do do do enthusiastically until I get inspired by something else, and then I go on to try my hand at the next thing. I set these goals, and I accomplish them. I always accomplish them. But I never become good at the thing. I never commit to the thing. I move on to a new thing when it comes time to get past "okay" and move into "good."

A few years ago I was inspired to run a marathon. I've never been an athlete, and I actually really hate running. But it was one of those bucket list things that I decided I wanted to cross off, so some friends and I started out on a six-month training schedule to run the LA Marathon. 

View All Photos | Run, Jessica, run! | [jessica]I realized pretty quickly that I was not cut out to be a runner. Like, not at all. I hated pretty much every single second of training for that race, and when I crossed the finish line of the LA Marathon, after 26.2 grueling miles and six months of intense training and hard work, instead of being over the moon at my accomplishment, I believe my exact words were, "Well, that sucked. I'm never doing that again."

And I haven't. I don't think I've run more than a mile since that day. 

Some of my friends have continued to run, working on increasing their time or their distance, setting new personal records as they participate in other races. Becoming more toned and more athletic and just better. Not me. I did that thing, and then I moved on to another thing. Yeah, I ran a marathon, but I'm not really a runner. 

So, now my "thing" is writing. I started my current WIP only a few months after I completed the LA Marathon, almost as if "Write a novel" was right there under "Run a marathon" on my generic bucket list. (I'm sure "Go skydiving" is coming up next.)

The big difference here is that, while I was never a runner, never an athlete, I've always been a writer. I may not have always been writing stories or novels, but as a kid I had many pen pals (we're talking like 50-ish) and I would write them these 10-page handwritten letters (front and back!) on a very regular basis, going into the details of my life dramas and hardships. I started blogging back in 2003, and for many years, my blogging was a daily occurrence, something I had to do before I could start my day. I've always been a writer in some shape or form. It's always been something I loved. 

Another thing I've always loved, like writing, is acting. I made my way on stage at five years old, and I felt at home right away. I tried to quit theater for activities I thought were "cooler" (like dancing, even though, like I'm not a runner, I'm also not a dancer. I love dancing a lot more than running, but there is nothing graceful about these lanky arms and legs), but I always ended up back on stage, back in the spotlight.

View All Photos | If only my ability matched my ambition. | [jessica]When I was in college I took some non-major theater classes. And the instructors told me I was good. And the other people in my classes told me I was good. And I thought for awhile about double majoring in Communications and Theater, because I loved it so much, and I thought I might actually be good at it. 

But I didn't. Because I was scared. Because I liked thinking I was good at theater, and I didn't want to be "eh" in a room of awesome people. I didn't know if my brand of good would stand up to the competition. So I decided not to even try to find out, and I pretty much gave up on acting and theater. I have done a couple of things since, and I've still heard that I'm good. But it's not the same. 

Yeah, I love to act. But I'm not really an actor.

And now I'm working on this novel. And it's hard. And every time I think I'm getting close to the finish line, it seems to get even more out of my reach. And, let me tell you, it is taking a lot of my time.

I just can't help I going to do do writing what I have done to these other things in my life? Even the things I have loved, like acting? Am I going to let my fear and self-doubt stop me? Am I just going to say, "I wrote a novel," cross it off the list, and then move on to the next thing, because I'm afraid of the competition? Or afraid to find out that maybe I don't like it as much as I thought I would? Or afraid to find out that maybe I'm not as good as I think I am?Or am I going to make THIS the thing I make myself good at? Am I finally going to commit myself to becoming GOOD at something that I love? And getting out there and TRYING? And, maybe if I find out that I am just "eh," maybe working my ass off to rise above that?

I really hope so. Because I'm at the point in my life where I'm ready to stop just being average at a bunch of things. I want to be awesome at something, and I really want writing to be that thing. 

I don't want to say, yeah, I wrote a novel, but I'm not really a writer. 

I want to BE a writer. 

And I want to be good at it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Like, Revision!

Last night I went to my first little get together for my local SCBWI chapter. The topic of the night was revision, so, since I'm in the midst of revising my WIP, I figured this would be the perfect meeting for me to attend.

Everyone came armed with a chapter or two of something they were working on and some critique notes they had recieved or a problem they were having. Then we went around the table and talked revision. I thought I would share some of the tips that came up. 

The big tip we discussed was to do several different passes/read-throughs that each focus on one specific aspect of your book.

Some specific aspects we thought up:
Problem words

Several people suggested using different colored highlighters to do this with a hard copy of your ms. Use one color to highlight where the voice was strong, for example, and another color to highlight where the voice needed work. Or highlight the parts with good humor in one color, and the parts that need some humor in another color.

This is sort of what I'm doing right now. My first pass is all about basic plot, so I'm going through to make sure my story all makes sense. As I was drafting, I made changes to the plot here and there. I wanted to keep my momentum, so rather than go back and change what had already happened, I just kept moving forward as if things had always been that way. Now I'm going through and changing all of those things so that everything makes sense, and I'm not really worrying about anything else until my next pass.

Then I'm going to go back and look for scenes I can cut or combine. I'm a horrible overwriter who takes fifteen paragraphs to say what could be said in one sentence, so I'm going to go back to tighten and get rid of all of the excess. Then go back and look at pacing. After all of that, it MIGHT be ready for CP eyes. We'll see.

Some of the more visual people suggested creating a story board with index cards for each scene, or using the storyboarding available in programs like Scrivener and Writers Cafe. I'm much more of a Excel person, so I have a very complicated spreadsheet on Google docs that I can get to from anywhere. It has each chapter broken down into scenes, then it has a column for each character so I can mark the scenes each one appears in. It also has notes for changes I need to go back and make. When I'm done with this first revision, I'm planning on adding some more columns about pacing and plot.

It was also suggested to look at each scene/chapter and list a clear goal. I like this idea, and I think I'm going to go back into my spreadsheet and add a column for the character's goal in each scene. This way I know each scene/chapter has a purpose that relates to the main plot arc. (Goodbye three-chapter-long trip to the karaoke were so much fun!)

One of the guys there was having issues with setting; his critique said that he didn't have enough of a sense of place. A suggestion he got was to list each of the five senses at the beginning of each change of scene. Then describe what the character was getitng from each sense in that particular setting. You don't have to write all five into the scene, but maybe one or two, and keep the rest in mind as you revise, so at least your character knows where he is, and maybe more of that sense of place will come out, so it doesn't feel like he's just floating in a generic white room.

I shared with the group that I inserted the text of my ms into a wordle word bubble to see which words I used the most. Imagine my mortification when I saw mine and the largest (by far) word was LIKE. This obviously means that I either 1) really, really love similies or 2) have a mc who talks like a valley girl. I'm thinking it's some tragic combination of both. So this little tool is a great way for me to go back into my writing and look for overused and problem words that I can get rid of. (One woman in the group said that she did this and it was her characters' names that were the largest in the word cloud. I think that's pretty good. Much better than mine.)

Here it is, just so you can grasp the tragedy for yourself. 

Our little meeting was only two hours, but I left with a lot of good ideas for revision and ways I can really polish my ms in the next few months. I really like revision (I like it much better than drafting, which has been pretty torturous for me), and I'm excited to take my ms to the next (awesome, like-free) level.

So, do you have any good revision tips? What helps you when you are polishing your writing?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Retail Therapy

I just went a little bit crazy and ordered a bunch of writing books on Amazon.
I have had a copy of On Writing by Stephen King for awhile now, but I haven't read it. With the pressure I put on myself to keep up the reviews for my book review blog, I would always put it aside for a YA book I could review for the blog. But I'm letting myself off the hook a little bit with some of that pressure, so as I left for work this morning I saw grabbed On Writing and tossed it in my purse. (Do all of you have to have a book with you at all times like I do? Guys...what do you do without purses to carry books in? I would be lost.)
I was feeling so in need of some writing motivation and instruction yesterday (I'm planning a whole post about feeling like a failure of a sham of a writer sometimes), so I popped onto Amazon and ordered these:

screen-shot-2010-09-01-at-74143-amYes, apparently letting myself off the hook means I am allowed to run rampant through the craft books. Just clicking on the order button on Amazon made me feel so much more motivated...the books did their job and I didn't even need to look at a single page.
Then today I saw this post by agent Mary Kole and I decided I wanted that book, too. So back to Amazon I went, and added it to my cart. (I don't order from Amazon often, so I don't have Amazon Prime, but I really wanted free shipping, so I threw Sea by Heidi R. Kling and Losing Faith by Denise Jaden into my cart, too.) Then as I was checking out, Amazon and its stupid "People who ordered what you are ordering also ordered this" suggestions pointed me toward this book:

So, yeah, you know I ordered it, too. I'm such a follower.
I now have a flood of writing books coming my way.
I'm thinking of how long On Writing has been sitting on my shelf, and I'm really hoping I don't regret buying all of these instead of getting them from the library. But, who knows, maybe just having them on the shelf will make me feel like a Real Writer. But I am really trying to make my writing better, and I know that what is in these books can help me with that, so I'm anxious to dive in and learn what I can.
Do you guys find writing books like these helpful? Have you read any of the books I have on the way? Any favorites I should impulsively click on the next time I go wild on Amazon?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm A Sucker For Book Clubs

I'm a member of a few book clubs.

I have my online book club, where we have a monthly book, but we also have daily conversations about whatever we are reading. I have met all of the girls in my online writing group from this online book club, and I have made friends from around the country here; people I talk to every single day. I don't often participate in the monthly book discussions, mainly because the books aren't really what I'm interested in. I've read a few of them, and participating in the discussions is always fun, but when I look at my TBR full of exciting YA books and the monthly choice about cadavers, well, you know the fun YA is going to win.

I'm also a member of an IRL book club. As you may have guessed, I met all the girls in my IRL book club online, too. They stopped being online friends a long time ago, though, and they managed to weasel their way into my real life. Now I see them and talk to them more than I see and talk to my friends that I met through traditional means.

(I'm very at home on the internet, just so you know.)

For my IRL book club, we switch off hosting each month, and the host always gets to pick the book for the group. Luckily I have a group who is very open to reading YA! My first choice for them was The Hunger Games about a year ago. And now my turn is up again, so I chose this book:

I'd have to say that The Sky Is Everywhere is my favorite book of 2010 (others include Before I Fall, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Some Girls Are), and I really wanted to share it with my friends. I can't wait for our discussion in a few weeks, and I really hope that everyone loves it as much as I did.

At school I was asked by one of my students to be the faculty advisor for a campus book club she's trying to start. I am so excited about this! It's probably going to be all girls, and the student who approached me knows how into books I am, so I'm just imagining these lunch periods spent circled up around a table having heated discussions about our latest reads. I'm also imagining Skype chats with some of the authors, which I know my girls would get a kick out of. I'm not sure how much input I'll have in the book selection, but these girls have great taste, so I know we won't just be reading every book in the Gossip Girl series. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) I also don't know how much reality is going to be like what I imagined, but at the very least we'll get to talk books, and they'll get to read some new stuff.

Then...I'd really love to get an Adults Reading YA Book Club going through my local bookstore or something, but I'm not sure what kind of response that would get. Would I be there all alone with my copy of the latest Sarah Dessen? Or would other people actually want to participate? What kind of work would be involved? How would I find these people? I have no idea where to start. I've also thought about starting up a staff book club with the other teachers at my school, but sometimes when I tell them how much I read they look at me like I have eight heads. (We won't really talk about how much these teachers don't read. We won't mention it at all.) So, I'm not sure if anyone would show up besides me.

Now, I have to ask myself... how much do I want to do these last two really? Do I really want to commit myself to another book club? Or two? Am I really going to read all those books each month? I don't know. I just know it's so hard to resist sitting around with people you like and talking books with them. I'm such a sucker for that.

Anyway, are you involved in any book clubs? What do you read?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thinking About Boys

Warning: The following long post was written as a total thinking as I type, stream-of consciousness type of blog. I'm using sweeping generalizations based only on my own students and books I have read. I'm totally open to discussion, and this is really more about speculating on a topic than it is about me thinking that I'm right. I am rarely totally convinced I'm right about anything. 
As a high school teacher who loves to read and write, and who loves YA lit in general, I am always trying to encourage reading in my classroom and find books that my students will enjoy. With the avid readers, of course it's easy; they will gobble up anything I put in front of them. With the more reluctant crowd, though, it's more difficult. I really have to know the student and what he or she is into and be familiar with my library to find a book that's a good fit.
It's been working, though. I had a really religious kid who said he never liked books before fall in love with reading through C. S. Lewis. I had a girl who swore that reading was torture find enjoyment in Sarah Dessen, Forever by Judy Blume,  and Good Girls by Laura Ruby. It was just about finding the right for for the right kid.
I've heard a lot of talk out in the world about guy YA, how teen boys aren't really reading, and when they are, they are skipping right from MG to adult stuff like Stephen King and Dan Brown. Honestly, I see this in my class, too. It's not for any lack of guy YA in my classroom library. Oh no. (I'll admit, Idefinitely don't have as many "guy" books as I do "girl" books, but I am always actively seeking out books with male narrators for the guys in my classes.) On my contemporary bookshelf, I have a shelf and a half dedicated to books with male narrators. The books are there. But right now I can look over to my classroom library and while the adult suspense shelf is picked over and the MG fantasy area is almost empty, that shelf and a half of contemporary guy YA remains pretty much untouched.
Over and over again I am finding that the guys bypass these shelves. They look at the books, they flip through them, but in the end they put them aside and try something from the Clive Cussler / Dean Koontz / James Patterson shelf. Or they read Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or Series of Unfortunate Events for the zillionth time.
I've been mulling this over in my head for awhile, but something kind of came to me as I was cleaning my classroom bookshelves the other day. I looked at my guy titles: King Dork, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, John Green's books, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.
All great books. (In my opinion, anyway.)
All books that feature weird, nerdy, dorky, or socially awkward guys as the narrator or protagonist.

I feel like a lot of guy YA features narrators or main characters that the average teen would classify as "dorky," or that the average person would consider to have "some major psychological problems."
And I feel like a lot of my guy students don't want to be associated with that at this point in their lives.
I have some nerdy kids (and I say this with nothing but love, because I adore nerds) in my classes who wear their nerdiness like a badge of honor. But I also have a lot of guys who I'll call "cool guys" in this post, for complete lack of a better term. These "cool guys" haven't really discovered that it's ok to be a little dorky, and they are very concerned about how they appear to others. A lot of the time these are the guys in sports or super involved. Or they're the guys who are called "bros" at my school, guys who party hard and likely dabble in drugs and other risky, after-school special behaviors. I see them pick up a YA guy book, a book I loved with great writing and a ton of voice, and then they cast it aside in favor of something with more action.
I'm always excited to get them to read anything, so if they're going to read Harry Potter again, fine by me. I'm not picky. But it dawned on me the other day...I'm wondering if they have a hard time relating to, or don't want to relate to, all of the dorks that seem so prevalant in contemporary YA.
Now, being an enormous dork myself, I don't have a problem with this at all. I love dorks of all shapes and sizes. And I look at my guys and I would say about half of them in my classes are of the nerd/dork/socially awkward variety. But the other half are these guys who are super concerned about thier image one way or another, have girls chasing after them all over, are obviously very experienced when it comes to love and life. (As experienced as a sixteen year old can be, anyway.) I hear them in the halls making fun of the nerdier kids or the kids with issues. Are these guys going to be drawn to a book called King Dork?
I have one YA book that a lot of the guys fight over. It's called Gym Candy, and it's about a star football player and his issues with taking performance enhancing drugs. The "cool guys" in my class pass this book around like crazy; they can't get enough of it. And even though it's not contemporary, they also really like the Alex Rider series, about a non-dorky teenage spy. (I haven't read Alex Rider, but I have lost SO MANY of these books. I'm constantly replacing them, and they are the ones the "cool guys" in my class always reach for. I asked my class today, as I was turning this post over in my head, if Alex Rider was a character anyone would consider a dork. I was met with a resounding "No!")  In these cases, we have books about a guy who isn't the social outcast, but someone that an average teen guy would want to be or want to hang out with. So it's no surprise that these books are popular with my teen guys.
The thing is, most guy YA books I have encountered have a hero who is more of a dork, and the football star, or the guy with the hot girlfriend, or the popular guy who throws the best parties, or the stoner who walks in to class late is the bad guy.
Well, if you are the popular guy who throws the best parties and has the hot girlfriend, like a lot of my students are, do you really want to read a book where you are the bad guy? Are you going to enjoy that? Will you relate to the story about the shy, awkward kid in the back of the room?
I don't know myself, but I just feel like my guy students don't.
I'm trying to think of YA guy books I've read recently where the protagonist or narrator was someone other average teenage guys would consider cool. I can't really think of any. (I think The King of the Screwups had a mc who was "totally pimp" as the kids would say these days, but he was also super in touch with his feminine side, and I'm not sure if that's something they all could relate to. I've had that book on my shelf for a year now, and only one student, a girl, has checked it out. I also think that Dakota in Carolyn Mackler's Tangled was a great "cool" guy character, a jock type with a hot girlfriend who is popular at school, but with two female POVs in that book, I'm not sure if I could convince one of my guys to pick it up.) (And I'm totally open to suggestions if you guys have any for me.)
So, what do you guys think? Am I way off base here? Do you think that the prevelence of dorky male narrators in contemporary YA might keep a whole group from relating? (I had whole paragraphs about why I don't see this as a problem with girls, but this was long enough already. Maybe I'll revisit that thought soon.) Like I said, I only know what I see in my own classroom, but when I look at the books that are getting checked out over and over and compare them to the ones that have never even been opened and what the guys are actually reading, this is really something that stands out to me, and I'm curious what other people think.