Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Today... We Hear YA continues the conversation on diverse books.  

The need for diverse books abounds, and the definition extends beyond race or sexual orientation. It includes people whose lives are radically different than most. That’s why I leapt at the chance to interview the directors of a documentary called THE BAD KIDS: Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe.

THE BAD KIDS is a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s about a high school in the Mojave Desert for kids who are on the verge of dropping out of mainstream high school, and in this school they are taught by teachers who see them for who they are and don’t ignore their life circumstances. The school really helps them make the right choices for moving on with their lives.

This story grips the heart! I hope we YA writers can use some of the truth found in Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe’s documentary, within our diverse stories, so that more so called “bad kids” can see that they are neither “bad” nor alone in this world.

Q & A with Directors Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe.

Q: What is the most important aspect for YA writers to know about the kids in your film?

Discovering their voices of these kids. Most people want to sweep these kids under the carpet because society thinks they’re representative of what we are failing at. But when you talk to these kids, they are amazing. They are not proud of where they have come from because they have come from horrible circumstances, homelessness and abandonment. Hideous drug problems. But it is important for them to get a chance to talk about their stories. Once they do have a chance to talk about their lives, they are more comfortable with what they have gone through. They are not ignored.

Q: What do these kids want / need?

One of the important things that a lot of these students share is that they feel as if they are alone, that they are the only ones going through this. And when kids have a chance to come together at this school, and see that they are not alone, it actually shows them a path forward. It allows them to realize that the problem is not with them but the circumstances that they have gone through. It gives them a source of pride to be able to move forward as adults.

Q: What surprised you the most about these kids?

These kids have empathy and grit. They are not coddled or protected from what is uncomfortable. These kids know adversity really well, and I think what it results in is an incredible amount of empathy. We saw these kids taking care of each other and going to each other to get through their problems.
I would trust these kids with anything.

Q: What is the theme you explore in this movie?

The film is called THE BAD KIDS because that is how they are labeled by their community. And the theme in this movie has to do with empathy. If you listen to their stories, and get to know who they are, they are not any different than us. In fact, they are probably more open and vulnerable and fragile than the typical person you meet. But you only get to see that if you can open your heart and see life through their eyes.

Q: What is the biggest way that these kids break stereotypes?

These kids are really wise. They are life smart in ways that most aren’t at 18 years old. And because they have been through such hard life circumstances, they do have more empathy. They know what it is like to suffer and feel rejected or neglected, and they hate to see other people in these circumstances. So, they actually reach out and try to take care of others. I don’t think that many people who have had comfortable lives have this level of empathy.

WATCH: A clip of THE BAD KIDS...

LEARN MORE! About the Sundance Film Festival and THE BAD KIDS.

Thank you Keith and Lou for your time and for creating such an important film!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Writers of YA – Go ahead and clear out 83 minutes of your day, because SEASHORE is a MUST SEE, LGBT film about teens growing up and sexuality. 

Riveting, raw, and very realistic, this film gives viewers an intimate look into the lives of two Brazilian teen boys during their most vulnerable moments. 


Written and directed by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon

Starring: Mateus Almad and Maurício José Barcellos

“It’s is a film about growing up, and sexuality - one of the challenges everyone has to deal with (Especially if you are LGBT). And Brazil is a country that faces a complicated situation on this at moment, where young LGBT people have their self-steam constantly destroyed by politicians in the media, and by a growing religious fundamentalist part of the society.”

Want to learn more? Of course you do! 

Here is my Q & A with writers / directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon: 

Q: What did you learn about the topic of sexuality and teens that you weren't aware of before? 

Probably the main thing we realized during the process (and we brought it into the film) is that there is a less and less for labels among teenagers. Of course, if you want to define yourself somehow, you have all the right to do it. But we think that this is becoming less of an issue. And one of our main characters is not defined by the story as gay, straight, bi, whatever. He only has experiences, and that is what we show. Perhaps in the future he will create a stronger identification, but for now that is all that matters. 

Q: Did you have any fears about not portraying these teens in the right way? And how did you ensure that the choices you made were honest?  

We were pretty close to the age of the characters. The main reason why we wanted to do this film while we were still young is that we didn't want to have a nostalgic or idealized portrait of youth. It is our vision of youth, and many things are based on our own teenage-hood. So far, we have received very kind feedback  from our young audiences, so we believe they can connect to it. 

Q: Do you have any research methods or sites or outlets that you used in writing this film, that other writers might find useful? 

The film is based on our individual memories of when we were 18 years-old. So the first thing was to share these memories and see which ones we wanted to use and how to confront them. 

Also, both of us love photography, so we looked a lot into tumblrs, flickrs and other social networks. Every time we found a photo related to youth that we liked, we would put it aside. After this research, many photos gave us ideas for characters development, scenes, situations and locations.  

Q: In writing about friendship and sexuality, where there any cliches you found yourself wanting to avoid and if so why?  

Yeah, coming out is hard most of the times, and therefore it is natural the most of its representations will be on a harsh portray, but we truly wanted to send an encouraging message to LGBT youth. And also to their friends, for them to know that you don't have to be an asshole if your friend comes out. When that happens, you actually have the opportunity to do something beautiful by supporting him or her, and then you grow into a much better human being. We also didn't want to define Martin's sexuality. Some people ask us if, in the end, he is gay or not. And that doesn't really matter to us. The interesting thing about him is that, after he confronts his father and decides to choose his own path, he embraces an attraction or perhaps love that he has for his friend. And we don't know how it is going to be from now on, but Martin feels enough courage to face the cold and raging waters of life, knowing that he and Tomaz will be there for each other as friends. 

The whole film is guided a lot more by an inner journey of the characters then by external facts or social labels. And that was fundamental for us from the very start of the conception of the film.  

AGAIN! TO RENT THIS DVD - You can find it via Wolfe Video and many major retailers, and across all digital platforms including iTunes, and Vimeo On Demand. 

About the Writer / Director Team: Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon are writers and directors that perform an autoral search focused on pieces that talk about conflicts inherently linked with youth and sexuality. The region where they live in the extreme south of Brazil is far from the typical image of the country, with cold weather and more reserved people, and it also reflects a lot in their work. Their short films have traveled over 200 film festivals, including Festival de Cine en Guadalajara, Frameline - San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, UppsalaShort Film Festival, Festival de Cinema Luso Brasileiro de Santa Maria da Feira, Inside Out – Toronto LGBT IFF,Short Shorts IFF, Mecal IFF, among others around the world.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Today... We Hear YA has the pleasure of chatting with acclaimed, 23 year-old, transgender actress Michelle Hendley - star of the just released narrative film BOY MEETS GIRL, available on DVD from Wolfe Video

In the authentic, Southern romantic-comedy BOY MEETS GIRLMichelle Hendley portrays a young transwoman trying to navigate life while looking for romance in her small Kentucky hometown. In real life, Michelle has already worked hard to navigate through some hard times and she's offered to share aspects of that long road with us.

First offCongrats Michelle on BOY MEETS GIRL! What did you learn about yourself, in making this film, that you didn't realize before? 

I learned I can act! I mean,  I've received a few awards for my work! It's kind of mind blowing to tell the truth. I do not have a background in theater/ acting, and prior to 'Boy Meets Girl' I was just some kid from Missouri trying to get through beauty school. Now I have a potential career in front of me and I am ECSTATIC! 

Q: Growing up as a transgender teen - What day to day aspects made you feel most different from everyone else?

By the time I started transition I had lived over a decade and a half as an outcast queer kid. I already felt unbearably different from anyone else I ever met, and I didn't expect that to change after pursuing gender transition. I will say though, in my early transition I felt like I needed to explain myself to every confused person who didn't know whether to call me "he" or "she." Who else has to explain their gender to random strangers? I felt very beside myself at the time. 

Q: What social aspects of growing up were more challenging in terms of choices you had to make. Whether it was clothing shopping or at parties, etc.?

Dating was probably the most challenging. Before I began transition it really did seem impossible to find guys who were cool with my androgynous look and eccentric personality. Especially in good ol' Mid-Missouri. 

Q: What does it mean to you when you hear the term 'Diverse Books' or LGBT books? And what types of stories did you search for as a teen?

'Diverse Books' sounds more like a descriptor of someone's personal library, not a specific genre (if it is that?). I have never heard the term used before. I understand 'LBGT Books' in terms of LBGT specific self-help books, but why should books that touch on LBGT issues be deemed as "diverse?" Like they are so different or special simply by the nature of being LBGT related? No. Books are books, people are people, regardless of their contents. Does that make sense? I tend to get wordy...

I was a big comic book and anime nerd back in the day, and I always loved old mythological stories.  I was drawn to stories about misunderstood (female) characters who possessed great power. I obsessed over bloody samurai revenge tales, and cried when Jean Grey (X-men) died for the sake of the planet. Oh. And I still read my old Sailor Moon comics.

Q:  Can you think of one moment in life that helped you gain a stronger perspective or deeper strength?

Like I mentioned earlier, dating was kind of a nightmare for me back in the day. Years of rejection from gay men who thought I was too much like a girl (go figure) built up, and I remember when the straw finally broke that metaphorical camel's back. I was in my dorm room, and this guy I was talking to online told me the same thing I had been told over and over again. I had a full on anxiety attack. Fetal position under my desk and everything. After I calmed down, I was angry - at the world, at men, at every person in my life who never gave me the time of day. I used that energy to figure myself out, and began research on "the middle gender." I read about cultures that actually celebrated individuals like myself, learned what "transgender" means, and began the initial steps of gender transition. We all hit a brick wall at some point in our lives, and I'm glad I figured out how to bust through mine. KA POW!

Q: How do want to see transgender girls and boys portrayed within media? What irks you about the media you've seen? And what has been done right?

I would love to see transgender characters portrayed in as many ways as their cisgender counterparts. For now, the media is going to try its best to portray us as a one-dimensional plot point; like our entire existence and purpose is based around our gender identity. Once the initial novelty of "transliness" starts to dim I'm sure we will see much more colorful representations of trans characters. Like, we aren't all down-trodden prostitutes with tragic pasts, you know? I am thrilled to see representatives like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock who are working proactively to spread awareness and education on trans issues though, and the media's willingness to hear those voices.  It really is just a matter of time for the trans community.  

And a few fun, quick questions:

What is your favorite YA book?

One book that really resonated with me during my teen years was "Goddess of Yesterday" by Caroline B. Cooney. Ancient Greece, strong female heroine...It was just meant to be.

What is one quirky habit you have?

When I get home from a grocery run, I like to eat a little bit of everything I bought. All those unopened packages and fresh produce are just too inviting!

What is up next for you?

I will be moving up to NYC in a couple months to continue working as an actress. Kinda freaking out to tell the truth, but in the best way possible. 

Wow, Michelle! It sounds like you have an amazing adventure ahead of you. We look forward to your continued success in the future. KA POW! 

Check out Michelle's YouTube Channel. Follow her @chellehendley


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Teens Sharing What Religion Means to Them!

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

We Hear YA is thrilled to share teen insights from members of the First United Methodist Church Youth Ministry in Tupelo, MS!

We asked each of these teens...

Q: What does being religious mean to you and how does this affect the choices you make as you interact with peers?

Rachel, 11th grade girl

Being religious isn't only a public thing for me, being religious effects my morals and personal life. Being religious for me effects the way I see and interact with people. Being religious makes me more loving and caring towards everyone. Jesus loved everyone, no matter what their race, sexuality, disability, or social class. I try to follow him the best I can through this. Every day I try to be kinder than I was the last, whether it's holding the door for someone, complimenting a stranger on their outfit, or consoling a friend. All of these things can make someone happier, and being religious teaches me to think of others before myself. Of course sometimes I struggle with wanting things for myself like clothing, I'm especially guilty of this, but the money I spend there could go other places like gifts for a friend or donation to a charity. Being religious makes me accountable for the mistakes I make.

Ellen, 11th grade girl

Being religious means following Jesus no matter the circumstance. And circumstances can often be difficult. It means showing Christ's love among a group of snotty teenage girls. All my friends claim to be Christian just like I do. We all have our faults and we all forget to treat others right though. Being a Christian means that I have to stick up for my friend when another one of our friends is casually trying to exclude her. I have to be the go between & be nice to both friends. It's not that I have to, it's my choice. I choose to follow Christ and I choose to stick up for him and his people.

Chris, 12th grade boy

My religion to me is one of my top priorities, because in past I haven't been very close to God and I'm really trying to get closer with him It does effect choices I make with peers because I take into account that doing what makes my God happy may not be what other people think is cool.

Megan, 12th grade girl

Being religious means being able to put God before materialistic and worldly things. Especially as a teenager it's really hard because you have to choose between going out with your friends and being surrounded by temptations versus not going out with your friends and directing your attention to God instead. I have had the hardest time balancing out God and social life which sounds crazy but it really is hard in high school to resist things. To be religious means for others to see Christ through you instead of being a bad influence.

Thank you for your replies & inspirational insights!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Enter At Your Own Risk!

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Introducing a NEW series of posts sharing pics of a teen's room - to help YA writers create authentic character profiles.  


MEET: Eve Nicholson, age 18

Fave Book: Outlander

Prized Possession: My kitty (whose name is Rory Williams but I call him Mr. Pitty Witty)

Fave Saying: “Whoever thought of that is GENIUS!” 

Unique Habit: I like to make funny faces at the camera at the bottom of the hills of roller coasters and then wait to see the hilarious picture when we exit.

 ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK... Eve's Bedroom!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Emmy Kate Bickford - Chats about college application thoughts and stresses

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

Remember your pre-college days? Well, 19yo Emmy Kate Bickford is about to take us back there, by sharing her mindset during the crucial application process. 

Hello Emmy! 

Q: What thoughts went through your mind as you were applying for college?

The most important thing for me when looking for colleges was finding a school that had great programs in both of my intended majors, theatre and dance. It was easy, then, to knock off schools early on in the application process. When you know what you want to do after college, it makes it much easier to find the right college and program for you. Another factor I considered was whether the college was part of the Disney College Program since I’ve always dreamed of participating in their intern program. Money was another important factor in deciding where to apply, as some schools that had excellent programs in theatre and dance were simply too expensive.

2. What was the most nerve-racking aspect of applying and why?

As a theatre and dance major, the audition aspect of applying to schools was the most nerve racking part since I was being judged on how well I performed in the moment rather than being able to hide behind a written application.

3. How often did the topic of college apps come up with your friends?

I attended a college preparatory school, Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, so it was essentially understood that everyone would go to college and we’d been preparing for years. Hume-Fogg is consistently ranked among the Top 50 public high schools in the nation, as well as the number one public high school in Tennessee; as a result, everyone was working on college apps, so no one really felt the need to talk about it. I did discuss theatre programs at different schools with my friend Vonnie, who planned to major in stage management; and I discussed dance programs with my friend Olivia, also a dance major.

4. What stress dealing habits did you pick up during this time?

In high school, I took dance classes five days a week and was able to rid work off my stress through that. However, in college, now that dance is a class where I receive a grade, it creates some of my stress. Thus, I’ve had to develop some new stress relievers, such as going to the gym, drinking lots of water and avoiding caffeine, and also setting aside time just to relax whether this means hanging out with friends or simply taking a much needed nap.

5. Now that you are a Freshman at Western KY University, what do you miss most about high school? 

When I was in high school, I thought the only thing I would miss would be the comfort of knowing my surroundings and everyone around me. The idea of going to a new place, not knowing anyone, or how to get anywhere scared me a bit. I also thought I would miss my friends; but overall, I didn’t think I would miss much because I was generally very excited to start the next chapter of my life. Now that I’m in college and have been here long enough to know my surroundings and make quite a few friends, I feel comfortable where I am and don’t miss much about high school.

Thanks Emmy! We can't wait to see you perform with Disney :)

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK'S BLOG POST - Featuring pics from a teen gal's bedroom!

Monday, March 23, 2015


We Hear YA! is super excited to spotlight a GIVEAWAY
and the haunting COVER REVEAL of...
Coming: September 18 2015 from Merit Press
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty one.

Who was Lizzie Borden? A confused young woman, or a coldhearted killer? For generations, people all over the world have wondered how Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby, met their gruesome deaths. Lizzie, Andrew’s younger daughter, was charged, but a jury took only 90 minutes to find her not guilty. In this retelling, the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, shines a compassionate light on a young woman oppressed by her cheap father and her ambitious stepmother. Was Lizzie mad, or was she driven to madness?

Check SWEET MADNESS OUT on Goodreads 

Preorder: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

About the Authors:
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab.  She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life.  She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. To can learn more about Trisha’s books, upcoming shenanigans, and her quest to reel in the perfect tuna, visit her website

Macintosh HD:Users:lindsaycurrie:Desktop:Lindsay_065-8x10-lo.jpg

Lindsay Currie lives in Chicago with her three awesome children, husband, and a one hundred and sixty pound lap dog named Sam. She has an unnatural fondness for coffee, chocolate and things that go bump in the night. She spends her days curled up in the comfortable confines of her writing nook, penning young adult psychological horror, contemporary fiction and science-fiction and is published with Flux/Llewellyn, Merit Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. Learn more about her at
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To celebrate, the authors are giving away four AMAZING books from our publisher Merit Press.