LAUSD Teens Read 2013 Project!

As I write this, Congress is in meltdown, terrorists are continuing to..well, terrorize, but here in Los Angeles the community at large is working together to increase literacy for public school students. Inspired by last year’s ALA Teen Read Week, a group of twenty LAYAs (L.A. YA writers) are pairing up and donating visits to ten middle and high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. We received a grant from the City National Bank/Reading Is The way up foundation to buy over 150 of our books to distribute to the schools’ libraries. We also partnered with a local indie bookstore, Vroman’s, to do on-site sales to students.

This is truly grass roots. Many employees of City National Bank, organized by Carolyn Rodriguez, choose to continually donate to the foundation through a payroll deduction—how cool is that?

In terms of books, contemporary realism, sci-fi/dystopian, thrillers, non-fiction, horror, mystery, history, as well as a couple of Fallen Angels in our own city of angels, are being represented by the following authors: (alphabetized by first name):
Amy Goldman Koss, Ann Stampler, Carol Tanzman, Carrie Arcos, Cecil Castalucci, Cherry Cheva, Claire LaZebnik, Crickett Rumley, Elise Allen, Gretchen McNeil, Janet Tashjian, Jessica Brody, Kathy McCullough, Kristen Kittscher, Lauren Kate, Lissa Price, Mark London Williams, Sally Nemeth, Sarah Skilton, and Susan Casey,

The school libraries (coordination by Torres H.S. teacher/librarian Karen Gibler) are thrilled to receive new books (the district gave them a budget of zero this year!) and introduce working YA and middle grade authors to students and teachers. Visits start this week. Author Sarah Skilton created the two flyers below to commemorate the events.

Win, win, win! Now if only Congress could work together in the same way….



LA Teen Authors Read at LAPL!

This week’s gonna rock at LAPL. Thursday, 6:30, Central Library, Meeting Room A, 630 W. 5th St., Downtown L.A.! Come here us read and discuss books!


ALA ‘12 

This weekend I attended the American Library Association’s summer conference in Anaheim. My personal highlight was signing dancergirl (with a preview look at the upcoming Circle of Silence) at the Harlequin Booth!

For an entire hour, the line went around the corner. Librarians certainly know how to quietly wait!

I ran into various members of the awesome Torrance High Book Club-several times. They promised they weren’t stalking me!

The Harlequin staff at the conference were fantastic (and color coordinated). That’s Shara, Patricia, Dave and Mary (l-r).

Back at the signing, the librarians and I got to chat a bit.

And finally, my favorite picture. Check out the tats on the guy waiting for dancergirl. Ahh, books—bringing everyone together.

Thanks to all at Harlequin for making this happen. It was a blast!


Best Day of An Author’s Life

Yes, it’s true. Birthday, Christmas, Hanukhah, Kwanzaa… all rolled into one. My author box of CIRCLE OF SILENCE arrived today. It’s my first look at the finished book. They are beautiful. So sophisticated… Doing the happy dance does not even come close to expressing how I feel! Many thanks to my publishing company, HarlequinTeen and my editor, T.S. Ferguson who worked so hard to make it so!


The Value of Arts Education-What is the price of failure?

The ground breaking Arts Education Program (drama, art, dance and music)  in existence for 13 years, and currently in all 530 elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School system, is in serious jeopardy of extinction. Please read the following fact sheet written by drama teacher Anne Flanagan and feel free to pass it along, tweet this link, and take any of the actions suggested at the end of the post. 750,000 elementary students thank you.


Young people who participate in the arts are:

  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
  • 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • Perform community service more than four times as often
    (Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching; 1998)

arts education…

  • makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.
  • has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention.
    (Youth ARTS Development Project, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996)

Businesses understand that arts education

  • builds a school climate of high expectation, discipline, and academic rigor that attracts businesses relocating to your community.
  • strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  • helps students develop a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.                                             (“Arts at the Core of Learning Initiative”; Oklahoma Business Circle, 1999)           


·       Creativity is the most important leadership quality to look for in their workers. (“Capitalizing on Complexity”; IBM, 2010)

·       One out of six jobs in Southern California is now in the creative industries; and the creative economy is the second largest regional business sector. (Otis College of Arts and Design, 2009)


·       In Los Angeles and Orange County, the creative economy generates nearly 1 million in direct and indirect jobs, $140 billion in sales and receipts, and more than $5.1 billion in state and local taxes.  (Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation; 2009)

"That all sounds great, but what about test scores?"


Arts education raises test scores! 


A 2008 study by the non-profit organization The Education Commission of the States concludes that arts can play a critical role in improving the academic performance of students.  In a national sample of 25,000 students, those students “with high levels of arts-learning experiences” earned higher grades and scored better on standardized tests than those with little or no involvement in the arts—regardless of socioeconomic status.  Learning through the arts also appears to have significant effects on learning in other disciplines, with “students consistently involved in theater and music showing higher levels of success in math and reading.”





LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy; 333 S. Beaudry Av., LA, CA 90017; 213-241-7000


Members of the LAUSD School Board  http://laschoolboard.org/

Your City Council Member   http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

County Supervisor   http://bos.co.la.ca.us/

California Legislators (Assembly and Senate)  http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html


Governor J. Brown            http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php


MORE Information and Resources:

Local:                        Arts for LA     http://www.artsforla.org

State:                         CA Alliance for Arts Education             http://artsed411.org

National:              Arts Education Partnership                           http://aep-arts.org


"The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create."

President Barack Obama


L.A. Teen Author Read-Debut!

Hey, there! L.A. now has a monthly teen author read. It’ll be at the Central Library downtown. The first one is next Thursday, 2/23 at 6:30. Address is 630 W. 5th St., Meeting Room A! Five fab authors! Come on out!


Last Chance L.A.! Help save Arts Ed!

You can make a difference, L.A.! (must live within the LA Unified School district boundaries)

Please SAVELAUSD’s Elementary Arts Program

which is in danger of being cut 100% in 2012-13 and beyond without your support.


Make ONE PHONE CALL to any school board member by Tuesday, February 14th when they will be voting on 2012-13 budget proposal, which currently includes cutting the Arts Education Program 100%.

Your voice will make a difference!

Ø  Remind the School Board that for the past ten years they have invested over $300 million in building Elementary Arts Education by training certificated teachers and developing curriculum for all of our elementary school students, rich and poor.  Don’t let them throw that investment away!

Ø  Remind them that Arts Education is standards based core curriculum, like English, math, science and social studies.  All students are entitled to it.

Call or email any or all of the following LAUSD School Board Members:

District  1         Marguerite.LaMotte@lausd.net • 213-241-6382          

*District  2         Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180 

District 3         Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386

District 4         Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387 

District 5         Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555

District 6         Nury.Martinez@lausd.net • 213-241-6388                  

District 7         Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385


And let Dr. Deasy hear from you, too!

Superintendent_JohnDeasy@LAUSD.NET 213-241-7000




Farewell To Marg Helgenberger

This has been a big week for Marg Helgenberger. She got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…

and tonight is her last TV appearance, after 13 seasons, as CSI’s Catherine Willows. I had the pleasure of meeting Marg — and acting with her— at the W. Hollywood Book Fair Teen stage in October. She is honestly the sweetest, most down-to-earth person imaginable.

Here she is with my novel, dancergirl. (How cool is that?)

I can’t wait to see where she turns up acting next!


Teaser Tuesday! Fat Girls in LA!

"Again, she curtsied, and again, the applause grew louder.  She reached a delicate hand toward the single rose and brought the perfect flower to her nose for a dramatic sniff. Oh yes, they loved it.  And her.  All 217 pounds of her.

From “Fat Girls in LA (Book 1: All About Vee)” http://amzn.com/B006C96FQG



So happy to announce the winners of the DANCERGIRL Blog Tour! It was tons of funI I want to thank all the great bloggers who hosted and the readers who came along for the ride. And now (drum roll) the winners are:


Gwenyth Love

The winners of a shiny new copy of DANCERGIRL:

Jen (In the Closet With a Bibliophile)
melanie walters 
JJ iReads
Heather Rosdol 
Stella Chen
megan @ book brats
You will be receiving an official email shortly. I’ve also posted the winners, and a special thank you to the bloggers, on my website.
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