Wednesday, January 11, 2017

S.E. Hinton and Feeling Like an Outsider

Last week, an ongoing controversy fired up yet again on Twitter. In one corner was S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, among other books:

In the other corner? Half the internet. Okay, maybe not that many people, but it definitely seemed there were more people against the author than for her in the Twitterverse.

It all started when S.E. tweeted this:

Apparently, she feels she's dealing with regular criticism about the lack of diversity in her books. 

Tired of this, she launched the first missile. The internet fired back. People took issue with the fact that she felt she was being attacked "for being heterosexual." As everyone fought, nobody seemed to take a step back and say...

"Why are we arguing over books that were published 40+ years ago?"

Unless I'm missing something, S.E. Hinton's last young adult novel was released in 1988. She released a couple of adult novels in 2004 and 2008. Yet her argument isn't that she seems to have misplaced her TIME MACHINE...

Instead, she's making a different kind of statement.

Okay, so let's assume (HOPE!) that she has a new book in the works so she's actually able to make a decision on this issue. Authors today know we should try to work diversity into our storylines. Many of today's children/teens have friends who aren't white. Who aren't heterosexual. It's important to introduce characters who aren't all white and heterosexual, even if it isn't an issue in the book itself.

In general, authors like S.E. Hinton have the power to introduce large audiences to the diversity of today's world. But S.E. Hinton doesn't feel qualified to tell those stories because she hasn't lived that life herself. She says she can only write what she knows...

But do you really need to know what a person has been through to diversify your fiction? What do you think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Introducing Crushing It by Joanne Levy

Today I'm introducing an author who is new to the Aladdin M!x line. It isn't Joanne Levy's first book--Small Medium at Large came out in 2012 and won all kinds of awards and accolades. Her new book is a fun twist on the Cyrano de Bergerac tale. Scroll down to read all about it!


Twelve-year-old Kat woos the boy next door on behalf of her best friend, and in the process realizes that true beauty—and true confidence—comes from the inside in this hilarious M!X novel from the author of Small Medium at Large.

Kat is already so over seventh grade. It doesn’t help that her best friend and cousin, Olivia, grew a foot over the summer and won a spot on the school’s dance team, shooting her up on the popularity scale. In the jungle that is middle school, Olivia is a gazelle. Braces-wearing, manga-loving, uncoordinated Kat is a warthog.

Plus, Tyler, Kat’s next-door neighbor and buddy since birth, morphed into a really cute boy over the summer. Suddenly the person Kat’s used to playing Xbox with is causing her stomach to do cartwheels.

When Olivia confesses that she has a crush on Tyler and wants to ask him to the Fall Ball dance, Kat knows there’s going to be a problem: Tyler thinks Olivia is just another ditsy girl who only cares about lip gloss and boy bands. But since Kat’s one of Tyler’s oldest friends, Olivia’s sure she’ll know how to get his attention.

Trying to be a good friend and squash her own feelings, Kat makes it her mission to get the two of them together. From writing “Tyler cheat sheets” listing his favorite things, to feeding Olivia lines through her headphones during Tyler-focused study sessions, Kat devises schemes by which Tyler will fall for Olivia. And to her delight—or maybe horror—her plan begins to work. Now that Olivia’s caught Tyler’s attention, Kat has to wonder if she’s fooled Tyler into falling for the wrong girl. But what boy would ever choose a warthog over a gazelle?

Buy Links:


Joanne Levy’s love of books began at a very early age. Being the youngest and the only female among four children, and the daughter to voracious readers, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book. 

A survivor of the corporate world, Joanne now works from home, supporting other authors and creating the friends she wishes she had when she was a kid. 

She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two mischievous cats, a mean African Grey parrot and a sweet but not-so-smart dog. When she’s not busy working at her treadmill desk, she enjoys reading (obviously), painting (badly), and taking long walks with her faithful writing companion, Labrador Retriever, Zoe. Crushing It is her second published novel, her first was Small Medium at Large.


Monday, January 09, 2017

Mystery Monday: Evelyn Hartley

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

Every Monday, I'm presenting a new mystery. Some have been solved...some remain unsolved to this day. 

The 50s were an innocent time, where families felt safe raising their children. Evelyn Hartley's story is especially touching not only because it happened in 1953, but also because it happened in the small town of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

On October 24, 1953, the entire town of La Crosse was preparing for the big game between La Crosse State Teachers College and River Falls. Professor Vigo Rasmusen and his wife were planning to attend the game, but their original babysitter had to cancel. He then called Evelyn Hartley, a 15-year-old who had babysat their child before.

Professor Rasmusen picked Evelyn up at her house and drove her to his home, five minutes away. His wife gave her instructions that included putting the baby to bed at 7 p.m. and covering her with a blanket at 7:15. The professor, his wife, and their 7-year-old daughter left the house at 6:45.

Professor Rasmusen's house

At 7:00, Evelyn's mom got a strange feeling. She decided not to call, though, since she knew her daughter always called at 8:30.

Evelyn's parents and sister. Photo courtesy Thin Air Podcast.

At 8:30, when Evelyn didn't call, her dad called the Rasmusen house. After another try, he decided to go to the scene himself. At 9:20, he arrived at the house and saw one of Evelyn's shoes and her glasses on the floor through one of the windows. Continuing around the house, he saw an open basement window. He found his daughter's other shoe at the foot of the stairs.

When the police arrived, they found a pool of blood just outside the basement window. There was also blood inside the basement near the window. Both were tested and matched Evelyn's blood type.

An active search began for Evelyn. The footprints indicated a men's size 11 shoe. Police found those footprints inside and outside the house, as well as in the backyards of neighbors, leading them to believe the perpetrator may have considered several houses before breaking into the Rasmusen home. 

Crime scene photo

Neighbors in the area reported hearing three or four screams around 7:15 p.m. The baby was in bed but not covered, further suggesting the abduction happened between 7 and 7:15 p.m.

Neighbors also reported seeing a dark tan sedan in the area around that time. Blood stains were found on the side of the Rasmusen home, including the bloody imprint of a human hand. More blood was found smeared on the side of a neighboring garage. At a house on the corner, the pool of blood was so thick, the police are certain someone likely lay in that spot for a long period of time.

The blood trail vanished at the end of the road. Police believe Evelyn was taken away in a car. A couple of days later, a man reported nearly hitting a two-toned early 1940s car that was speeding away that evening. He said he saw a man and young girl inside. He said just a few minutes earlier, he'd seen the same two people walking together in the area where the blood was spotted. They were staggering, but he'd assumed they were just drunk.

A similar car was reported near the La Crosse River Bridge. The car sped away when it was seen by the police. Later police found a size 11 "Hood Mogul" shoe and a jacket nearby. Blood on the shoes and jacket were confirmed to be Evelyn's blood type.

Although Evelyn's disappearance sparked one of the biggest searches in Wisconsin history, no one was ever charged. Notorious killer Ed Gein has long been considered as a possible perpetrator, since he was visiting relatives just a few blocks away. He was questioned but never charged. He died in a mental institution in 1984.

What do you think happened to Evelyn Hartley?