Contest time!

It’s Day of the Girl and National Coming Out Day, so thought I’d give away a book featuring my bisexual badass heroine Tabitha.

Head on over to Twitter to RT this post and follow me. You could win a copy of Grrrls on the Side!

What’s your ’90s Zine called?

Grrrls on the Side is full of excerpts from the characters’ zines. These blog-style print booklets have great names like “Chubby Bunny” and “Material Grrrl.”

Want to know what your ’90s zine would be called?

In the graphic above, just find the word associated with your zodiac sign (#1), then the last digit of your phone number (#2) and then the last digit of your age (#3). Put the three words together and you get the name of your zine.

Mine would be Brutal Feminist Baggage.

Grrrls on the Side is now available wherever books are sold!

Grrrls on the Side
ISBN 13: 978-1-945053-21-4Grrrls on the Side - cover

The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.

At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.

Playlist for your next riot

Girl-fronted punk bands gave birth to the Riot Grrrl movement. As a result, music played an important role in its culture and the writing of Grrrls on the Side. This playlist is inspired by both the characters from Grrrls and the time period in which it is set—some songs are more modern and others are pure vintage punk. Enjoy!

Cool Schmool – Bratmobile
Oh Bondage! Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
You’re No Rock n’ Roll Fun – Sleater-Kinney
Bucket of Bleach – Peroxxxidal
Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
White Girl – Heavens to Betsy
Simple Then – Honeychild Coleman
Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Activity Grrrl – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
Coming Clean – Green Day
Off-Duty Sailor – Dicks
She’s Amazing – Team Dresch
Sunday Girl – Blondie
Girls and Boys – Blur
Material Girl – Madonna
Just a Girl – No Doubt
Constant Craving – k.d. lang

You can also listen to the playlist on Spotify or by clicking on the widget in the sidebar below.

 

The many ‘flavors’ of bisexuality

I’m going to be blunt here. I only came out as bi about a year ago. Just one year. 365 days, give or take. For the three and a half decades prior, I identified as straight. And not just publicly. I really and truly believed it.

For more than 35 years, I thought that, despite regular and not inconsequential attractions to women and nonbinary folx, I was straight.

Growing up, I only had two examples about sexuality: gay and straight. And let’s be real, the gay rep is still pretty limited, and up until the 1990s, it was mostly the butt of jokes. What I saw reflected in the world was this binary choice. Either or. You either find men attractive or women.

The only problem was that when adolescent me started having feelings, I would often find myself drawn to both girls and boys. Although I don’t think I had the awareness to look at it this way at the time, I had crushes on almost as many girls as I did boys. But my brain, with its conditioning from this binary way of thinking, couldn’t reconcile this. I knew I wasn’t a lesbian, and I knew I liked boys. Therefore, I must be straight.

Continue reading “The many ‘flavors’ of bisexuality”

Revolution (21st century) girl style

“The early ‘90s were a difficult time to be a woman, especially a young one, and too little has changed in the intervening decades.” — Sara Marcus, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

This quote is the epigraph to my latest novel, Grrrls on the Side, and I chose to use this particular quote because it’s the sentence that inspired me to write the book. Literally. I actually set the book down and immediately copied it down because it hit me so hard.

Even after I finished reading Marcus’ book, this quote stuck in my mind. Why had it been such a powerful statement to me? I looked through old zines to see if I could see what Marcus meant. Because Riot Grrrl had formed the bedrock of my feminist viewpoints, I wasn’t shocked that I could still feel passionate reading an issue of Jigsaw or Girl Germs. But I wondered if that was the only reason. I could certainly relate to cries for a “revolution, girl style” and something told me I wasn’t the only one who might still feel this way. In fact, I started to notice how much these old zines were eerily familiar to what my friends and followers were saying online.

The more I paid attention, the more it became clear: the very same issues that riot grrrls wrote about in their zines and music in the 1990s are still on the minds of girls and women today. These issues get talked about on Twitter and Tumblr as well as queer and feminist sites like Autostraddle, Bustle, BGD and more. The Riot Grrrl era is still highly relevant, although I like to think feminism has come much further in its awareness of intersectionality and inclusion. But the same basic ideals are still the zeitgeist of 21st century feminism.  There are clear parallels between social media activism and the feminist zines of my youth. Discussions of rape culture, sexuality, gender expression and body autonomy pop up frequently.

In the end, this realization angered and confused me. How is it than in the nearly three decades since Riot Grrrl began, we’ve only come this far? Especially when our current political climate often feels like a giant step back for women, how do we find the motivation to keep pushing? Is the cause lost? I don’t think so. In fact, I choose to look at this situation another way. I think this is the last, pathetic effort of an oppressive, white, heterosexual patriarchy that knows its days are numbered. It’s a final Hail Mary play to control the discussion, our bodies, and even our minds. But we can’t and won’t let them win. I know that in my heart. I think all of us Riot Grrrls do.

So why did I write a book for teens in 2017 that takes place in 1994? Because it’s a universal story that I hope one day feels antiquated and naïve. I hope it inspires teens to make that happen.


Grrrls on the Side is available now wherever books are sold.

I’m going on (virtual) tour!

Join me June 8-21 as I hop around the interwebz to visit these great blogs to talk about Grrrls on the Side. You’ll get exclusive content, giveaways and more! And don’t forget to follow #GRRRLSTour on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter for even more angry ’90s feminist shenanigans!

8 June A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet
8 June Diverse Reader
8 June The Novel Approach
9 June Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
12 June Unquietly Me
13 June Just Love Reviews
15 June Molly Lolly
16 June From Top to Bottom Reviews
19 June Parker Williams
21 June Sweet Fiction Silhouette

Riot Grrrls and Trigger Warnings

My novel Grrrls on the Side, (Duet, June 8, 2017), takes place during the Riot Grrrl movement of the early to mid-’90s. The young women who considered themselves Riot Grrrls were feminists, activists and artists. They participated in the punk scene, created zines, marched on Washington, spoke out about rape culture, and demanded to be heard. But like many young women and teens, they were often derided for their choices and for daring to speak out.

It was an imperfect movement that was often criticized for its lack of intersectionality and ultimately fizzled out due to a lack of organization. But it was still important. Many young women found themselves through the friendships and values they formed as Riot Grrrls. Myself included. My feminism definitely has its roots in Riot Grrrl.

Because Riot Grrrl was (and still is) important to so many women, I knew I had to depict the experience with honesty and respect. That meant being realistic about what these “grrrls” talked about during their meetings. Unfortunately, for one in six American women, that probably meant talking about sexual assault. So it would be impossible to talk about feminism and Riot Grrrl without addressing that very real and important issue. But that doesn’t mean I should exploit the situation. Real people who have been sexually assaulted may read my book (I know of a couple who already have), and I owe it to them to treat their experiences with care because rape and other forms of sexual assault cause very real, lasting trauma. Just because it happens in real life and I wanted to reflect that in a novel, doesn’t mean that victims who might be harmed by reading about something so traumatic should have to read it. So I chose to include a trigger warning in the author’s note at the beginning of the book. Continue reading “Riot Grrrls and Trigger Warnings”