Diana Renn

Mysteries that Matter

Author

Some wonderful bloggers have invited me to interview and guest post lately, so I thought I’d share a couple of recent links! I should note, I’m not on a formal blog tour, which can be fast-paced and involve many stops. I’d call this more of a “blog cruise.” Leisurely, with time to write meaty answers and lengthy guest posts. I’m enjoying getting to know some bloggers, scoping out their reviews . . . and adding more titles to my TBR pile! (oh no . . . .)

So I visited Katie over at One Page at a Time, where TOKYO HEIST was featured this month for the 2012 Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. I wrote a guest post there, about the multicultural angle in this novel. (And there are three more days left of a TOKYO HEIST giveaway there! Go enter!)

Yesterday I did an interview at Picture Me Reading. I was asked some really interesting questions about the background of the book, and had a lot of fun answering them. I loved discovering this blog, by the way . . . the blogger includes her own art in her book reviews. Here’s her comic-style review on TOKYO HEIST from a few weeks ago!

And, coming up . . . a live event!

Are you in the Boston area? Know people who are?
Interested in strong girls in fiction?

 I’ll be speaking at an event called “Fight Like a Girl,” sponsored by Boston GLOW, on Tuesday, September, 18, in Boston. The event has two panels, one for middle grade authors (at 5:00) and one for YA authors (at 7:00). Click here for the event page with details and RSVP info. There will be lively discussion (no fighting, I promise), book signing, swag bag giveaways, and snacks. (Snacks!) I can’t wait — and I’m so honored to be appearing with the fantastic line-up of authors!

One of the best things about this writing journey so far has been emerging from my writing cave and connecting with other people through a shared love of the written word. So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of words to connect people, and I’ve been thinking about the importance of voice.

Last night I had the privilege of meeting ten amazing young women with very strong voices. I was a judge for the GLOW Boston 2012 Ignite Change Essay Contest, along with fellow YA authors Hilary Weisman Graham, Lauren Morrill, Gina Rosati, and Gina Damico. All ten finalists were honored at an Awards Banquet at Maggiano’s Restaurant. The prizes the girls’ received included scholarship money, books, and — for every girl — a brand new netbook. Each finalist was also paired with a writing mentor to personally help her in the process of realizing the power of her own voice. You can read more about all of the finalists here.

Boston GLOW stands for Girls’ Leadership, Organized Women. The mission of this small but mighty nonprofit organization is to foster opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active, engaged world citizens. The IGNITE Change Contest, which began in 2010, encourages teen girls to find their voice and make a call for change through writing. This year’s essay contest asked them to describe a problem in their community and come up with an actionable plan for solving it.

As a judge, I was impressed by the creativity of the ideas and the passion behind them. The girls wrote about a diverse range of topics, such as emotional bullying, domestic violence, and self-esteem issues. They discussed girls’ mentoring groups in schools, programs that might offer mothers a chance to recharge and regain their sense of self, and the need for more books in libraries featuring girls and women of color. Solutions were articulately, persuasively presented. I came away from the essays feeling hopeful, knowing that girls were wrestling not just with these problems but with potential solutions. That hopeful feeling was compounded last night as I sat among the young authors, in a room buzzing with energetic conversations. As I watched each girl step up and be honored, and as I met their proud families and friends, I felt that the future was in that room. Change truly begins with ideas and words, words ventured on paper and then shared with a wider audience.

YA author A.C. Gaughen is one of the key organizers of GLOW, and I’m so grateful to have been invited to read these essays and to meet so many inspiring and powerful women!

How do words connect you to other people? How do you think reading and writing can ignite change?

It’s December! The holidays are approaching (or encroaching, or looming, depending on where you are in your preparations). It’s also the time of year when many of us like to show our gratitude or give back to our communities however we can. As a busy 2011 draws to a close, I  feel so grateful to my family and friends for all their support of my writing career, as well as to everyone on my publishing team who has been working so hard on behalf of my forthcoming book. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without all these fantastic people.

If you’re feeling as grateful and sentimental as I am this season, here are a couple of writerly “giving back” opportunities that you might want to check out. I’m participating in both of these.

This month, my favorite group writing blog, Beyond the Margins, is sponsoring their first annual Above & Beyond Award. This is your chance to nominate anyone in the writing community who has gone out of their way to help fellow writers. Between now and December 31st 2011, you can send in a 250-word description of how you know this person and how he or she has gone above and beyond the call of duty. The winner will be profiled on Beyond the Margins for all the world to see, and also win some sort of snazzy award.

Another organization I’d like to highlight this season is Boston GLOW (Girls Leadership and Organized Women). This phenomenally energetic group runs an initiative called IGNITE CHANGE. IGNITE CHANGE gives teen girls in underfunded Boston schools the opportunities to learn leadership and communication skills, and to use their voices to  promote local change. They raise thousands of dollars in scholarship money and run an annual essay contest for teen girls (I’ll be a panelist for this contest in 2012). They’ll be holding their fundraiser, IGNITE THE NITE, on January 12, 2012. I encourage local folks to come out and attend, and encourage anyone to check out the group’s website and consider donating funds or auction items for this important cause.

Do you know of other organizations or events where writers and readers can give back this season? I’d love to hear of more and add them to the list!