your soul.


your story.


new worlds.


outside the lines.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Remembering Phoebe Prince

This story just breaks my heart.

In fact, it makes me sick.

A fifteen year old girl from Ireland, Phoebe Prince, moved to my state of Massachusetts and was relentlessly bullied, picked on, verbally abused, harassed and degraded on a daily basis. She believed that her only option was to end her life; that it was her only escape. No one stood up for her. Not even the teachers.

On January 14th, 2010 she hanged herself in her bedroom closet, after a particularly brutal day of being tormented by her abusers.

When I wrote my books, I had to really dig deep and combine the worst of everyone I've ever known to make my *mean girl* characters. I needed to make Kate Endicott so despicable, that no one could ever possibly like or identify with her. What frightens and angers me is that there are real people out there worse than Kate Endicott; worse than my most evil fictional character. Truth really is scarier than fiction.

I am angry for Phoebe. I blame the teens who bullied her. I blame the parents of the bullies. I blame the educators who knew what was going on and turned a blind eye.

How can we, as a society, let this happen? How can we let people harass each other to the point where they feel there is no other option but to end their own lives? Why do we glorify celebrities who are mean and vindictive--young women like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton -- who make putting each other down into a sport? Popular reality shows like the Real Housewives, The Hills, and Tinsley Mortimer's new show High Society all highlight women and girls at their very worst. On a weekly basis in top shows (even American Idol!), people are getting verbally trashed, mocked, teased and berated, and we wonder why teens think it's okay to do the same.

We are creating a culture of "mean people." The nastier you are, the more you get noticed. The bigger the bully, the bigger the following. The teen and pre-teen years are difficult enough to get through on their own. But when you add Facebook and blogs and MySpace and IMs and YouTube, you are turning one individual's personal battles into a voyeuristic, masochistic nightmare for the world to see. I remember things that embarrassed me in high school: a catty comment from a group of girls, an unrequited crush, being teased by some teen-aged boys. But then, like most high school "nightmares," they would blow over, like they always had in the past.

Now, kids are forced to relive their worst moments again and again on YouTube or pictures that get IM-ed throughout the Web. The rumors about their sexuality or their embarrassing moments are not just fodder for the local bullies, but now their embarrassment is out there for the world to see and to judge. When I was in high school and college, the good days were exhilarating; the bad days were horrendous. But for most of us, the bad stuff stopped at our front door. We could leave the teasing, the rumors, the cattiness at school and regroup and gather our strength at home. Now the bullying has become relentless. With Facebook and blogs and emails, there is no escape from the harassment. It has become all-encompassing.

If I had a larger platform, I would make the bullies wear the scarlet letters. I think they should be the ones humiliated on a daily basis. I would make it *uncool* to hurt other peoples' feelings and for the popular kids to be popular because they are actually nice. It goes without saying that for the most part, popular kids are often the cruelest. The *in-crowd* is powerful because they rule with fear. It's the same today as it was ten, twenty, fifty years ago. But the difference now is that teens feel like they have nowhere left to turn. We are reminded again and again that things posted to the Internet are out there forever for the world to see. How scary is that? Especially for teenagers who just want to get through their awkward stages and begin living their lives. What if they think that their lives will be forever tainted? What if the bullies know this and feed off of it?

I am going to try to get a group of young adult authors together to make a stand against this type of bullying, so that someone like Phoebe Prince never has to feel that she is alone, ever. So that she or he never has to think that suicide is the only option; the only way to escape the incessant bullying and meanness.

I am posting this essay written by Phoebe Prince that someone forwarded to me, because I think that her words are powerful. Her life was one that was cut too short. She was never given the opportunity to be heard.

“Phoebe’s death on Jan. 14 followed a torturous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse,” District Attorney Scheibel said.

Yesterday, nine teens were hit with charges in connection with the case.

Mind Over Matter, Value Essay

Phoebe Prince
Mr. B-G
Block E
Mind Over Matter
Where have today’s values gone? Everyone is so preoccupied with their electronic gadgets to appreciate simple moments like the first snow fall of winter or hearing the words I love you for the very first time. We live in an impersonal electronic society, is that what our values have gone to? We no longer appreciate simple conversations now that we have twitter and face-book. Personally I can’t believe that reading an email would have the same effect as speaking with someone face to face, making a moment.
I get into my pink fluffy onesie my feet tingle as they rub off the soft cushioned fabric. I head downstairs into the kitchen. The walls our heath green with various paintings of vegetables. I live in an old country house with a barn door and all the furnishings to boot. My fathers sitting at the dining table reading a thriller type novel as per usual with a half glass full of white wine next to him. The fire is roaring and the smell of hydrangea’s wafts through the air. I curl up on a chair adjacent from my father making sure to be cosily tucked in near the fire. He puts down his book and says, “Now what is on your mind tonight my dear?” From there on we start a heated debate about almost anything. Our conversations range from sex, drugs and rock and roll to matters of great importance such as ancient religions, politics and criminal justice. No subject is off limits with me and my father.
I click in my glossy silver i-pod into my speakers. I turn up the volume full blast, the walls vibrate from the sound of System of a Down screaming out “Chop Suey”. I’m sitting in my room on my mattress (I broke my bed one evening whilst jumping on it). My walls are covered with doodles, posters, lyrics and memories. I have the lyrics to “I love college” by Asher Roth printed on my walls. I start off by listening to some Arctic Monkeys, they always get me in a good mood. My mix soon turns into some darker music. My i-pod reflects me inside throughout. Its my constant companion. Soon my boyfriend rings me up, “Phoebe c’mon man lets go for a spin, bring your i-pod.” I get into his Civic and he starts driving. The windows are down and the air is blowing through my hair, I plug my i-pod in and the Alex Kidd starts pumping. Alex Kidd is by far my favourite DJ. The words “ecstasy” are throbbing in my ears. Leem starts speeding up we’re going well over sixty miles an hour. We change the music to some Chemical Brothers and The Avalanches. He drops me outside the farm across the road from my house. I now put on “Sandiego Song” by the Coronas.
I value both my i-pod and my nightly conversations with my daddy for both different yet similar reasons. My i-pod is stimulating to my body as I can’t help but move along to the beat, it is also the soundtrack of my life, I have a song for every moment and mood of my day. Without it I would be lost. Its also therapeutic for me I find it easy to relate to the lyrics in music and let them wash away any emotion I’m feeling. As for my nightly conversations with my daddy I treasure them dearly they stimulate my mind to no end, he has increased my knowledge of different dialects, cultures, religions and politics. I learn about the world around me even though I don’t leave my kitchen table.

Both my i-pod and my conversations with my daddy make me think, one with its thoughtful lyrics that I relate to and helps me deal with my own personal problems. My nightly conversations make me think about other people and the world that I’m in. I become more emotionally and intellectually mature through both these activities. Although I still value such items that don’t have such significant effects on me. Sometimes I love just walking around in my favourite heels and feeling like the most confident girl in the world, but mostly I just like sitting back and discussing politics with my dad.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Elizabeth Scott talks about "the unwritten rule"

About The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like you best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

What others are saying about The Unwritten Rule:

"Sarah and Ryan's relationship, with the visceral thrill of physical attraction, is beautifully captured, but it's the delicate balance between insecure Brianna's need to put Sarah down and Sarah's loyalty to her needy and lonely friend that will stay with the reader. The painfully abrupt ending fits the characters and story, and will leave readers wanting more. Scott's realistic dialogue and empathetic view of symbiotic relationships will have teens thinking she has been eavesdropping on their conversations. Romance readers will pick up this novel and discover fine, accessible writing many notches about the standard love story." -- Booklist

"I read this book in a few hours, all in the same night. It was impossible for me to walk away from, because I wasn't sure what was going to happen to the characters, and I couldn't even decide for myself what I actually wanted to happen. Did I think the best friend should get the guy and lose her best friend? Was the girl currently with the guy being mean? Was I mad at the guy for not going for what he wanted in the first place? I really liked how our main character considered the role of best friends in the media (especially movies). I found what she said to be so very true - best friends in movies are there to be awkward, to listen... not often to have as great a life as the more popular of the best friends. I was very satisfied with the ending, and agreed with the ways things turned out, even though I didn't know that that is what I wanted until it actually happened. Bravo, Elizabeth Scott!" -- Chick Loves Lit

"This is an emotional novel and one that will stick with you. It might sound like it'll be a fluffy chick lit romance, and while there is romance, it's certainly not fluff! If you've read anything by Elizabeth Scott, you know she writes great romances and this one is no exception. It's never an easy or light romance--it's heartwrenching and heartbreaking and real. The Unwritten Rule doesn't take the easy all will be perfect route to this story which I think makes the book even more realistic. This book will have you thinking about your friendships and relationships long after you read the last page." -- Green Bean Teen Queen

Author Bio: Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott grew up in a town so small it didn't even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She's sold hardware and panty hose and had a memorable three-day stint in the dot-com industry, where she learned that she really didn't want a career burning CDs. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband; firmly believes you can never own too many books; and would love it if you visited her website,

THE UNWRITTEN RULE Simon Pulse / March 2010

My Interview with the Fabulously Talented Elizabeth Scott:

Elizabeth wrote one of the scariest books I’ve ever read called LIVING DEAD GIRL. It’s a book that has haunted me ever since I picked it up a year or so ago. So, I was so thrilled to be able to interview her for the Girlfriend’s Cyber Circuit. Here goes:

My second novel, THE LOST SISTER, deals with revenge and the repercussions of what happens when a hazing incident goes too far.

1. First topic: Revenge. What is your experience with it? Have you ever sought revenge? As the old adage goes, do you think that living well is the
best revenge?

I've never really sought revenge for anything. And as for living well being the best revenge, I don't know if that's true. I mean, if we're talking in terms of material success, I definitely don't think it matters, because someone who hates you and wants revenge --well, they really aren't going to care how much money you have. But if living well means being the best person you can be, then yeah, I do think that's a good thing.

Cliques and mean girls are everywhere. At book signingsI've had everyone from 12 year old girls to 45 year old women tell me they still encounter them. Do you? How has it changed since you were a teen?

If you're female, you will never get away from cliques or mean girls. Ever! I do my best to avoid both, but you can't help but run into them from time to tome. I do think mean girls and women are actually meaner now because there are so many more ways to be mean than there were back when I was a teenager, like--well, like the internet.

3. I have a "Writing Music" playlist on my iPod. What would be on yours? What one song or artist captures the essence of your book?

I don't listen to music when I write so I have no idea what would be on my writing playlist, and as for what song captures The
Unwritten Rulebest--I have no idea about that either, but I'd love to hear from readers about it!

4. What do you tell people is your favorite book/author? Now what is your "real" favorite book/author. (i.e. I tell people Pale Fire by Nabokov is my fave, but right now I'm really into Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.)

I can't pick a favorite book or favorite author. I love too many to ever just have one!

5. If you could swap lives with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

I wouldn't mind being my dog for a day. She's got a pretty sweet life, plus I'd love to know what she's thinking.

6. Who would be in your dream cast if your book was made into a movie or television series? (And multimillion dollar salaries were no issue--they'd all do it for free!)

I have no idea!

7. As a publicist, I know that it's important for every novel to have journalistic hook. For The Lost Sister, it's mean girls, bullies and hazing. What's yours?

One of the cardinal
unwritten rules of high school: don't like a friend's (much less a best friend's!) boyfriend.

8. Just because it hasn't been asked yet, favorite 1980's movie?


9. Why should I choose your book for my book club?

Because it's a story about love, friendship, family, and figuring out who you really are. And I think those are things we all wrestle with.

10. I'm a huge and fabulously powerful movie producer and you have 30 seconds (an elevator pitch) to sell me on why your book is great and should be made into a movie. Go!

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I'm just going to ask the producer about his last film--and okay, for gossip about the stars!