September 30, 2009

Author John Green, YA Fiction, and Weltschmerz

The Writer

John Green is the Michael L. Printz Award-winning author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. He is also one half of the vlogbrothers on YouTube, where he makes videos with his brother Hank. When he was little, he wanted to be an earthworm scientist. (There is a word for such a person: oligochaetologist.) But he killed off his entire earthworm farm due to his general inability to care for pets. Later, he made a list of things he was good at. The list included "telling lies" and "sitting." So he became a writer.Green currently lives in Indianapolis, IN, where he is working on the screenplay of his third book, Paper Towns, which is the recipient of the 2009 Edgar Award by the Association for Mystery Writers of America.

You can follow John through Cyberspace by checking out his website, Nerdfighters, and Twitter.

The Book

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Click the cover above to pre-order your copy of Paper Towns today!

On Young Adult Fiction

Why write teen fiction?
Well, I like teenagers both as characters and as an audience. I like them because they're in the process of forming their values, and because they're willing to grapple unironically with the big questions of our species: Why is the suffering in our world distributed so arbitrarily and unfairly? What are our responsibilities to ourselves, to those we love, to those we don't love? What does it even mean to be human? That's the kind of stuff I like to think about, and so it's the kind of stuff I like to write about, and I find that teenagers are just a great audience.

Like, this does not directly relate to my books, but once a week or so, I do a live show online. People (mostly teens) watch online while I answer their questions and read from old poems and stuff. It's amazingly fulfilling to read Whitman and Dickinson and Keats with these kids; I feel like my writing is just another path to that same experience, the chance to have a conversation with people who are really engaged and curious and conscious of the connection between their values and their lives.

How much research do you do to get into the mindset, the culture of teenagers?
Very little. The research I do is stuff I'd be doing anyway: reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, talking to people online. I mean, I didn't know anything about teen culture when I *was* a teenager, and I don't know much about it now. I am always blown away with the ways that teenagers are constantly inventing the language (giving us, just in the last few years, such words as "pwn" and "nerdfighter"), but there's no way I'm going to sound hip by trying to ape them. Personally, I think the key is to invent a world that is consistent and believable in and of itself; that world will never perfectly match the teen culture of the moment, but it also won't sound dated so quickly.

What are some of the themes you tackle most often in your works?
I'm interested in firsts: first love, first loss, first intellectual engagements. And I'm really interested in the way teenagers (and the rest of us) misapprehend other people and the world around them. There's this word I just learned when I was in Germany: weltschmerz. It means the sadness one feels when considering the difference between the world as it should be with the world as it is. If I had known about this word from the beginning, I wonder if I would have ever needed to write books. It turns out that everything inside all of my books is right there in a single word. Weltschmerz! Weltschmerz! Weltschmerz!

So, yeah. Weltschmerz. And I try to be funny, because the whole sad affair is kind of hilarious.

I notice there are a lot of YA book series in the market; do you think this is a trend with longevity? What do you think it takes to have a strong YA book series?
I don't really know. There have been series for a long time (I read all of the Babysitters' Club books), and even though I've never attempted a series, I really admire good series and enjoy reading them. I have no idea what it takes to write a good YA series, but from observing my friends who've written good series (Cassandra Clare, Lauren Myracle, Libba Bray, and the like), it requires a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth over how to resolve everything satisfactorily.

What are three sources VITAL to writers interested in writing YA fiction?
Well, the only sources I'm going to list are YA novels because I think the best apprenticeship we have is reading. There are all kinds of helpful resources for publishing YA, like SCBWI and the book Literary Marketplace. But as far as writing goes, I would read:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, because it shows all of us what can be done.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, because it shows that a book can be ceaselessly gripping while still being deeply interesting. (I recommend the sequel, too, but I'm positive you'll read it once you've read the first one).

3. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, because it is such a perfectly structured character study that can teach us all a lot about how to make characters readers will love and remember.

To read the first pages of Paper Towns, head HERE!

September 23, 2009

Talking YA Fic Series with Author Shelia Goss

The Writer

Shelia M. Goss is the best-selling author of the young adult novel series: The Lip Gloss Chronicles: The Ultimate Test, Splitsville and Paper Thin and author of five women's fiction novels. Besides writing fiction, she is a freelance writer. She's the recipient of three Shades of Romance Magazine Readers Choice Multi-Cultural Awards and honored as a Literary Diva: The Top 100 Most Admired African American Women in Literature. Learn more about Shelia at the official Lip Gloss Chronicles website and at Shelia's official website.

The Book

In Stores September 29, 2009

The divas are back. Jasmine, Britney and Sierra’s world is filled with drama at Plano High.

DJ Johnson has been spreading nasty rumors that threaten to ruin Jasmine’s reputation. Jasmine’s home life is in turmoil too. Her parents are in the midst of a divorce, and she’s taking it hard. As if all that weren’t bad enough, Jasmine soon finds herself involved in drama that makes the situations with DJ and her parents seem like child’s play.

Click the cover above to pre-order your copy of Splitsville: The Lip Gloss Chronicles, Vol. 2 today!

On Young Adult Fiction

Why write teen fiction?
I've actually wanted to write a teen fiction book since being a teenager and reading Nancy Drew. My friends’ teens love books like Gossip Girl, The Clique, Private, etc., so I decided that I would write a series where the main characters were minorities but grew up in middle to upper class households. The stories are reality based and although entertaining, each book in The Lip Gloss Chronicles series deals with issues that some teens face.

How much research do you do to get into the mindset, the culture of teenagers?
I sit and observe a lot. I talk with and listen to my pre-teen and teenage cousins and friends.

What are some of the themes you tackle most often in your works?
The Lip Gloss Chronicles series tackle current issues affecting teens. Each book in the series is told from one of the main character's point of view.

Britney's story is The Ultimate Test - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 1. This book deals with the importance of friendship and also deals with the issue of an only child having to share their parents with a newborn after years of being the only child.

Splitsville - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 2 is Jasmine's story. Jasmine must deal with her parents divorcing and one of the friends learn about the dangers of giving out personal information to strangers on the internet.

Paper Thin - The Lip Gloss Chronicles Vol. 3 tackles an important issue of teens and their weight. Sierra is the lead character in this book. I decided to tackle this issue because many teenage girls are struggling trying to look like unrealistic images they see in various forms of the media.

I notice there are a lot of YA book series in the market; do you think this is a trend with longevity?
I don't think it's a trend. There's always been a lot of YA book series, but only recently a lot of AA YA book series. I think that as long as we write YA series, there will be an audience (both with teens and adults).

What do you think it takes to have a strong YA book series?
There have to be realistic characters and storylines.

What are three sources VITAL to writers interested in writing YA fiction?
1. The internet--great tool to use to learn about the YA market.
2. Research--read other YA books, talk with teens, and recruit a few teen readers for your unpublished work for feedback.
3. Network with other YA authors and professionals.

Any closing comments you'd like to make regarding teens and writing?
I am real excited about the Lip Gloss Chronicles series. I would love to see the series expanded from the current three books and follow the three friends until high school graduation. Besides the Lip Gloss Chronicles, I am busy working on another YA series.

Writing YA books gives me the opportunity to talk to teens about the importance of reading and writing and how it relates to their everyday life now and in the future.


From Splitsville: The Lip Gloss Chronicles, Vol. 2
Chapter One

“Jasmine McNeil, you are our new Miss Teen USA?” R & B singer Usher announced to me and the world.

Teary-eyed, dressed in a violet floor length evening gown, I accepted the tiara and huge bouquet of roses and walked down the runway waving at the audience and the cameras. I wasn’t at a loss for words. “I would like to thank my mom and dad for believing in me. If it wasn’t for there genes I wouldn’t be as beautiful as I am. I would like to thank my best friends back in Dallas, Britney Franklin and Sierra Sanchez. Oh and one other thing, I wanted to thank all the haters—look at me now.” Someone was beating some drums trying to ruin my moment. I looked around but couldn’t see who because of the blinding light.

“Jasmine Charlotte, get your butt ready for school,” my mom’s voice rang from over my bed, waking me up from my dream.

I attempted to pull the covers back over my head, but she wasn’t having it. Once I realized she wasn’t going away, I slowly rose up out of the bed. My mom didn’t let her five foot stature stop her from laying down the law in our house. My sister and I would call her Lil’ Kim behind her back when she made us mad. Her full name was Kimberly Ann McNeil and she wore the name like a badge of honor. She was proud to be the wife of the ex-NFL superstar Dion McNeil. With folded arms, she stood and watched as I got my stuff together. “Mom, I’m not a little kid. I can get dressed by myself.”

She tapped her foot a few times before responding, “If you stayed off that computer, you could get up. I’m really thinking about having it taken out.”

“Mom, please,” I begged. “I promise I won’t stay up late anymore.” I avoided eye contact and made a beeline for my closet, ignoring my mom’s rants.

“I’ll think about it. Hurry up, because Brenda has to register for her classes today and she’s dropping you off at school first.”

“Mom, I thought you were dropping me off.”

“Jasmine I don’t have time for your attitude. Just get ready and don’t make your sister late.”

I heard the door slam. I looked out my closet door and my mom was nowhere in sight. Lately it didn’t take much to set her on a verbal rampage. She and my dad fought the entire two weeks we were out on winter break. For the first time, in a long time, I actually looked forward to going to school.

An hour later, I found myself rushing because Brenda wanted to annoy me by honking her horn instead of telling me she was ready to leave. She was my older sister and in college but sometimes she could act so immature. With my backpack in one hand and my favorite lip gloss, Grape Delight, in another, I rushed by my mom at the end of the stairway as she gave me the evil eye.

“What took you so long?” Brenda asked. She pulled off before I could get my seatbelt on.

“You better not let mom or dad see you pulling off like that.”

“Please. Mom and dad got too many other problems so I know they’re not concerned about my driving.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t know if I should tell you with that type of attitude.” She honked her horn at the car in front of us.

“Bren, come on. If you know something, tell me.”

“Mom and dad are thinking about getting a divorce.”

“A di…” I couldn’t say the word.

“Yes, a divorce. I know you’ve heard them. Everybody on the block probably did…as loud as they are.” By now, we were stuck at the light on the corner of Legacy Drive and Plano Boulevard.

“They can’t get a di…” Brenda’s news shocked me. I couldn’t even say the “d” word. My parents argued, but didn’t everybody’s? I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad they were talking about splitting up for good. Why was this happening to me? Why? Why? Why?

September 19, 2009

Are you inCharacter? You SHOULD be!


inCHARACTER is the creation of author Samara King in a quest to quench her hunger of creating characters. (Clause: Her preference for heroes has nothing to do with it!)

Starting in September 21, 2009, characters will have their day at! inCHARACTER seeks to provide a creative outlet for like-minded authors who also enjoy the depths of character development, character/scene features of all genres, as well as thought-provoking articles on the subjects of creativity, writing, and character creation.

** inCHARACTER will also be in search of bi-monthly contributors for literary articles and candid prospectives into the literary life.

As inCHARACTER continues to grow, affordable advertising spaces will be available for purchase as well as book spotlights.

If you are interested in an inCHARACTER Character Feature, you may submit the following material:

1. Book Cover
2. Short Author Bio and Author Link
3. 250 – 750 word scene featuring selected character of author’s choice.

The Catch: Once Samara King has read your selected character scene, five questions will be sent to the author, geared toward your character….Interested? Good! Please submit your character feature for consideration to!

September 9, 2009

On Y.A. Fiction with Author E. M. Crane

The Writer

Photography by Gordon W. Perkins

E. M. Crane is the author of Skin Deep, published by Random House in 2008. Skin Deep won the Delacorte Press Prize for First Young Adult fiction, and it has been nominated for the 2009 Charlotte Award by the NY State Reading Association. Crane lives in rural northern New York near the Canadian border, where she is a full-time writer. She is represented by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

You can learn more about E.M. at her website.

The Book

If all the world’s a stage, Andrea Anderson is sitting in the audience. High school has its predictable heroes, heroines, villains, and plotlines, and Andrea has no problem guessing how each drama will turn out. She is, after all, a professional spectator. In the social hierarchy she is a Nothing, and at home her mother runs the show. All Andrea has to do is show up every day and life basically plays out as scripted. Then one day Andrea accepts a job. Honora Menapace—a reclusive neighbor—is sick. As in every other aspect of her life, Andrea’s role is clear: Honora’s garden must be taken care of and her pottery finished, and someone needs to feed her dog, Zena. But what starts out as a simple job yanks Andrea’s back-row seat out from under her. Life is no longer predictable, and nothing is what it seems. Light is dark, villains are heroes, and what she once saw as ugly is too beautiful for words. Andrea must face the fact that life at first glance doesn’t even crack the surface.

Click the cover above to order your copy of Skin Deep today!

On Young Adult Fiction

Why write teen fiction?
Because many teens love raw truth in stories. So do I. But the truth is, I don't write for teens. I write for everyone. I do love coming-of-age stories and using teen characters, so I guess that's how I've ended up in the genre, but I definitely don't sit down and say, "This piece is going to be teen fiction." I just write it.

How much research do you do to get into the mindset, the culture of teenagers?
None at all. I believe that while some of the props of being a teen change from generation to generation, one thing remains the same -- emotion. You can be 15 or 39, anger is still anger. Shame is still shame. And no matter our age, we all love to laugh. I guess I don't worry about what's hot or whether the mall is still the place to hang out - I'm aiming for the timeless characteristics of humanity that unite all ages, not the detail activities that separate us. And to me, humanity is unified by emotion. Plus, is there truly one mindset, one culture of teenagers? If there is, what a boring lot! lol. All joking aside, a story needs to be true to one character at a time, not an entire population all the time. As long as my character is truthful to his or her experience, it's all good.

What are some of the themes you tackle most often in your works?
Loneliness. Beauty. Isolation. Gender inequality. Hope. Tolerance.

I notice there are a lot of YA book series in the market; do you think this is a trend with longevity?
I'm not a series writer, but I see that trend, too. I think it does have longevity; historically speaking, good series often build a strong following. Readers become invested in characters and want to travel with them over the space of more than one book. And that's what I think it takes to have a strong YA series -- a fabulous cast of characters.

What are three sources VITAL to writers interested in writing YA fiction?
To me the VITAL sources are all internal: unbridled imagination, the fearlessness to tell the story, and lots of practice.

Any closing comments you'd like to make regarding teens and writing?
Teens get such a bad rap in society, it's almost cliche from one generation to the next. But for me, writing for people who are right in the middle of shaping who they are -- it's an honor. I have tremendous respect for both this audience and for other YA writers. Stories bond us; age is nothing. If a reader can take a piece of a story and find it meaningful in a personal way, it's a beautiful thing for both the reader and the writer. That's the kind of writing to which I aspire, and the kind of reading I love most.

September 2, 2009

Talkin' YA with Author Matt de la Peña

The Writer

Matt de la Peña’s debut novel, Ball Don’t Lie, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick and is soon to be released as a motion picture starring Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emelie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette (based on the screenplay he co-wrote with director Brin Hill). de la Peña’s second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adult (Top Ten Pick), a 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society, a Junior Library Guild Selection and made the 2008 Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Literature Blue Ribbon List. His third novel, We Were Here, will be published by Delacorte in October, 2009. His short fiction has appeared in various literary journals, including: Pacific Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, Two Girl’s Review, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review. de la Peña received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he teaches creative writing.

You can learn more about Matt by visiting his website and his Facebook page.

The Book

The story of one boy and his journey to find himself.

When it happened, Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home—said he had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can’t even look at him in the face. Any home besides his would be a better place to live.

But Miguel didn’t bet on meeting Rondell or Mong or on any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and getting to the border to where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself.

Life usually doesn’t work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you’re running from.

Click the cover above to order your copy of We Were Here today!

On Young Adult Fiction

Why write teen fiction?
My first novel, Ball Don’t Lie, was pitched to both adult and YA editors, and when my agent came back to me and said, “Hey, Matt, congratulations, your novel sold to a YA publisher at Random House,” I pumped my fist and sprinted around my neighborhood – really. It wasn’t until a week later that I asked him what YA stood for. I had no idea. When he told me YA stood for “young adult” I said, “Dude, you’re gonna have to be a little specific.” He said the book would be marketed to teens and that I might have to take out some of the swearing (there was a lot) and maybe tame the most graphic of the sex scenes (it was pretty graphic). But that’s how ignorant I was about the genre I had entered.

Now I understand YA a little better. I suppose I’m really drawn to the “coming of age” story. Everything is new, exciting, alive, dramatic. It’s such a big part of our lives. Personally, I think we experience about a dozen “coming of age” stages over the course of our lives. But around high school age we go through that first one, and the first of anything usually leaves a pretty big impression. I love following teen characters, watching them make sense of their lives.

How much research do you do to get into the mindset, the culture of teenagers?
It’s strange, in some ways I have the absolute worst memory imaginable. Recently an ex-girlfriend found me on Facebook and we got to talking and she wrote, “Hey, remember that time you got in a fight with Rene Muñoz in front of the library because he said my new haircut made me look dyke-y?” I wrote, “Oh, yeah. Man, that was crazy.” But really I had no idea what she was talking about. Sometimes I totally forget big things that have happened to me. But I’m much better at remembering the tone of my teenage years. I remember what made me sad and what got me hyped. I remember what it felt like when I discovered the power of a pretty girl. I remember being alone – even when I was with other kids. I pull a lot from that. I also played basketball all through high school and college, and that experience informs everything I do. Hoop brought us together, from all over the country, and I learned everything from that context.

Ninety percent of my research is about plot stuff. I still play ball at the local YMCA in Brooklyn. I’m always listening to the kids who pas through those games. I’m always looking to steal.

What are some of the themes you tackle most often in your works?
Race is important in all three of my books. In Ball Don’t Lie, main character Sticky is a scrubby white kid existing in a gym populated only by African-Americans. Mexican WhiteBoy is about a kid trying to make sense of both his Mexican side and his white boy side. In my newest novel, We Were Here, coming out October 13th, main character Miguel is also bi-racial – half Mexican, half white again (like me!). When he’s sentenced to a year in a group home (for a horrific crime he didn’t mean to commit) the guys quickly give him the nickname “Mexico” because of his brown skin. The irony is he doesn’t speak Spanish and has never even been to Mexico. In all three books teen characters are trying to make sense of racial identity issues. But what ends up being just as important as race, in my estimation, is class.

A lot of teen fiction takes place in an upper-middle-class context. The characters are cool financially so they stress on other stuff like popularity and social clicks and who’s taking who to the prom. Some of that stuff is great, by the way. But I’ve always wanted to write about the other side of the tracks, the have-nots – maybe because that’s who I was. I’ll never forget this epiphany I had when I lived in LA. I saw this kid sitting alone on a bus stop bench, hood up, headphones on, holding a basketball. People pulling up to the stoplight were oblivious to his existence. Folks in nice cars like BMWs and Mercedes and Jags. They didn’t see him. I tried to figure out what that meant to me. And then I said to myself, “Man, I’m wanna write about kids like him. I wanna show how his life is just as beautiful as the lives of the rich folks sitting in those nice cars. I’m wanna make people ‘see’ him for three hundred pages.” And I guess that’s what I’m still shooting for.

Oh, and I also like when one of these kids falls for a super pretty girl, and it shakes them of their cool for a sec.

I notice there are a lot of YA book series in the market; do you think this is a trend with longevity?
There are so many great books out there, so many amazing authors. It’s hard to sift through everything. I think teens respond to series because if they discover something they really respond to, they wanna keep going down that seam. I’m the same way with authors. If I find one I love, I read everything that person has ever published. Maybe teens focus more on characters. If they come across a character that pops they wanna read everything in which that character appears. I think series will continue to be popular.

Man, I wish I could think up a cool series. As a writer that must be kind of fun, too. I bet the books go quick. You don’t have to spend all that time figuring out who the heck your character is. You just tell the story.

What are three sources VITAL to writers interested in writing YA fiction?
- SCBWI is an invaluable resource for prospective teen authors. I just went to their annual conference in LA, and it was great. Check out:

- Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. A great resource!

- Gotham Writers Online. Any class or writing group really. It’s pivotal to get feedback from peers and colleagues. [link]

Any closing comments you'd like to make regarding teens and writing?
I think the single greatest mistake you can make as a teen author is to “write down” to your audience. There didn’t used to be such a big delineation between teen and adult. Many great adult books of the past (Catcher in the Rye) would be categorized as teen novels today. Now that more people set out to write teen novels I think there’s a belief that the writing has to be more simple and more explicit. Not true. You can be just as ambitious and artistic. When I read a book where an author is writing down to teens I immediately smell a rat – and I think teens do, too.

I’m lucky. I’m fully aware that I’m not smart enough to write down to anybody.


From forthcoming novel, We Were Here

May 13

Here’s the thing: I was probably gonna write a book when I got older anyways. About what it’s like growing up on the levee in Stockton, where every other person you meet has missing teeth or is leaning against a liquor store wall begging for change to buy beer. Or maybe it’d be about my dad dying in the stupid war and how at the funeral they gave my mom some cheap medal and a folded flag and shot a bunch of rifles at the clouds. Or maybe the book would just be something about me and my brother, Diego. How we hang mostly by ourselves, pulling corroded-looking fish out of the murky levee water and throwing them back. How sometimes when Moms falls asleep in front of the TV we’ll sneak out of the apartment and walk around the neighborhood, looking into other people’s windows, watching them sleep.

That’s the weirdest thing, by the way. That every person you come across lays down in a bed, under the covers, and closes their eyes at night. Cops, teachers, parents, hot girls, pro ballers, everybody. For some reason it makes people seem so much less real when I look at them.

Anyways, at first I was worried standing there next to the hunchback old man they gave me for a lawyer, both of us waiting for the judge to make his verdict. I thought maybe they’d put me away for a grip of years because of what I did. But then I thought real hard about it. I squinted my eyes and concentrated with my whole mind. That’s something you don’t know about me. I can sometimes make stuff happen just by thinking about it. I try not to do it too much because my head mostly gets stuck on bad stuff, but this time something good actually happened: the judge only gave me a year in a group home. Said I had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how I think. Dude didn’t know I was probably gonna write a book anyways. Or that it’s hard as hell bein’ at home these days, after what happened. So when he gave out my sentence it was almost like he didn’t give me a sentence at all.

I told my moms the same thing when we were walking out of the courtroom together. I said, “Yo, Ma, this isn’t so bad, right? I thought those people would lock me up and throw away the key.”

She didn’t say anything back, though. Didn’t look at me either. Matter of fact, she didn’t look at me all the way up till the day she had to drive me to Juvenile Hall, drop me off at the gate, where two big beefy white guards were waiting to escort me into the building. And even then she just barely glanced at me for a split second. And we didn’t hug or anything. Her face seemed plain, like it would on any other day. I tried to look at her real good as we stood there. I knew I wasn’t gonna see her for a while. Her skin was so much whiter than mine and her eyes were big and blue. And she was wearing the fake diamond earrings she always wears that sparkle when the sun hits ’em at a certain angle. Her blond hair all pulled back in a ponytail.

For some reason it hit me hard right then—as one of the guards took me by the arm and started leading me away—how mad pretty my mom is. For real, man, it’s like someone’s picture you’d see in one of them magazines laying around the dentist’s office. Or on a TV show. And she’s actually my moms.

I looked over my shoulder as they walked me through the gate, but she still wasn’t looking at me. It’s okay, though. I understood why.

It’s ’cause of what I did.