Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Friends with Hannah Jayne

Today on the Bloggity Blog we're chatting with the gorgeous and fabulous Hannah Jayne. Hannah Jayne is a well loved romance author, and also a YA writer. Her debut YA novel, Truly, Madly Deadly comes out this July.  The cover is hot and I can't wait to read it.

I was lucky enough to meet Hannah last year at the Romance Writer's of America conference. She's one of those bubbly warm people you just immediately love. We bonded over talks about spanks and young adult novels we love! So now, here's YOUR chance to chat about teen best friends.

Did you have a best friend in high school? If you did, are you still in touch?

HJ: Yes! My best friend, Jen, and I were co-captains of our high school cheerleading squad. We lost touch a bit after high school, but found each other again just before she got married. That was eleven years and three kids ago!

You were a high school cheerleader co-captain? How much do I LOVE that? So you're no longer carrying pom poms so what do you miss most about the best friend?

HJ: We see each other a lot less since we no longer have daily cheerleading practice! She used to be my daily ounce of calm. Now, since she's the one with the husband and kids, I get to do that for her -- but a lot less frequently. 

Did you ever have a big fight? What was it about? How did you resolve it?

HJ: Neither of us were huge fighters, but I "re" started dating an ex boyfriend my senior year in high school. She was deathly against him and it caused a huge rift in our relationship. Then, I thought it was because she wasn't supporting me; twenty years later I know it was because she was completely right (he was horrible), and I knew it, but I just didn't want to see it.

What do they say? Hind sight is 20/20.  Re-dating  ex's is rarely a good thing, right? If you never fight, what’s something your best friend did for you, that probably no other person would do.

HJ: She was the only person in my life to cut out all the niceties and say, "you're in a bad relationship. Get out or I'm gone." And then she followed through. It sounds terrible, like she abandoned me, but it was the best thing. I was (am) the kind of stubborn, hard-headed person who needs serious action and follow through to get a message.
Yeah and she sounds pretty amazing to know that and give it to you! So. Did you have a favorite song, or a favorite place where you hung out?

HJ: We're local San Jose girls, so back in high school, the place to hang out was "haunted" Hick's Road. There was supposed to be an abandoned insane asylum up there where a few of the crazies still resided, along with albinos, witches, Satan worshipers and choice rabid animals. No one ever went to the top of the road to check out the legends -- except, of course, for someone's sister's roommate who came back white-haired and catatonic and was never able to say what she saw...

Yeah. I would never go there. Like ever. So. What did you and your best friend most love to do?

HJ: We were pretty nerdy! Our main activities were watching cheer competitions while eating cheesecake, hanging out in the back of Kevin Kwan's Thunderbird while listening to Prince, and talking about guys. Now, since we're adults, we got to New Kids on the Block concerts together, eat cheesecake, and talk about guys.

I love that! So what did you love most about you teenage best friend?

HJ: She was crazy and fearless. She taught me how to drive my own car -- even though she didn't get her license until 2 years after I got mine!

What did you learn from your best teen friend?

HJ: Besides how to use a gear shift, I learned that being afraid of everything in your past would never drive you forward.

Are your relationships with friends different at this stage in your life? How?

HJ: Yes and no. Humor and eating are still huge in my relationships (what can I say? I'm Italian!), but our being fearless has taken on completely different forms. Fearlessness in high school was asking a guy out; fearlessness now is quitting a solid career to follow a dream.

Definitions do change, but attitude doesn't. So good for you. Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat!!

 She thought it was a coincidence.
 She was wrong.

Truly, Madly, Deadly --coming July 2013

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."


Monday, April 29, 2013

Nicole McInnes

Oh my gosh, I don't know about you, but I am LOVING this best friend series. I love hearing about so many GREAT YA books (especially my special love- YA CONTEMPORARY) Also, it's fun to look inside the lives of authors and look at the type of teen friends they had. Am I right??

Anyhow. Today we are chatting with Nicole McInnes. She's the author of BRIANNA on the BRINK.

Popularity didn't come easily for sixteen-year-old Brianna Taylor. She didn't wear the right clothes or come from the right family. In fact, she didn't come from any family at all, unless you counted Jolene, who just wasn't that much into being a mom. So when Brianna joins the cheerleading squad, she finds herself suddenly popular. But then a one-night stand has life altering consequences, and Brianna must accept help from the one person closest to her mistake.

No longer in control, Brianna must reevaluate all that she thought was important and learn the true meaning of family.

I'm hooked!!! Now let's talk to Nicole about Friends!!!

Did you have a best friend in high school?

NM: Yes, definitely! I was lucky to have not just a core group of great friends, but a bestie as well.

Did you have a favorite song, or a favorite place where you hung out?

NM: Honestly, there are too many favorite songs to list. Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” does come leaping to mind, though. We loved hanging out at the local frozen yogurt shop, on the high school lawn during lunch or just on the metal hallway railings near our lockers.

Well, I thought you might be close to my age with Soft Cell but when you say frozen yogurt shop, I'm like, nah. I'm old. So...what did you and your best friend most love to do?

NM: Our favorite pastime may have been passing notes during class and trying to get each other to crack up. She was a ballet dancer, and I was big into drama, so there was always a lot of performance stuff going on in our lives outside of school as well. We also just liked to chill with our other friends and our boyfriends, doing stuff in groups, etc.

Sounds like awesome artsy fun!!!What did you learn from your best teen friend?

NM: I learned to persist and to be more organized! Seriously, she had/has the neatest handwriting I’ve ever seen, and she was amazing at organizing everything from what she was going to wear to Prom to the details of my wedding rehearsal when she was my matron of honor.

I love that trait in other people, most because I LACK it. Lol. So, are your relationships with friends different at this stage in your life? How?

NM: My relationships with friends (besties and otherwise) are different now in the sense that it takes a mutual understanding of life responsibilities in order to make a friendship work. I definitely didn’t feel this kind of pressure in high school. These days, if someone doesn’t get what it’s like to have kids and a career and isn’t able to be flexible with their expectations (i.e. of how much time I can spend on the phone or just hanging out), then it’s going to be really hard for me to connect with that person. That said, my friends who DO “get it” are pure gold to me. Besties ROCK.

I don't think there's any relationship quite as intense as a Teenage Bestie, because it's a time in your life when you really need someone around. Not that we don't as we get older,  life just tends to interfere more or something. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your story!! Can't wait to read BRIANNA on the BRINK. I see it's getting rave reviews from Kirkus!!! Congrats!!!
Nicole McInnes

Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Available wherever books are sold!

Twitter: @Nicole_McInnes

Facebook: Nicole McInnes Author


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Caela Carter was Afraid to have a Best Friend

I am sooooo excited about reading Caela's book, ME, HIM, THEM and IT. It's at the tiptop of my reading list, and I can't wait to sink my teeth in. I've heard so many people raving about this book!! Gritty YA Contemporary...my FAVE!!! Caela's book just came out in February 2013!

ME, HIM, THEM AND IT by Caela Carter

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who's been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn's secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex - until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant - and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

And now, in Caela's own words, a touching and heartbreaking story and then touching again story that probably many of us can relate to. But she says it best in her own words....here's Caela...

It was the beginning of third grade and I was being dumped by my friend. Publicly. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk in classroom when D dropped it into my palm: the jagged edge of the half silver heart with the letters “BE- FRI-” carved into it. Even though I’d given her the better half of the necklace without even arguing. “Here,” she’d said. “I don’t need this. I’m best friends with K now.”

            I was a little girl who didn’t understand friendships that could be part-politics, who wasn’t interested in New Kids on the Block or winning recess kickball or owning the best pair of shoes. I could not comprehend what D was doing, though, believe me, it hurt.

            The trading of friendship necklaces became an epidemic in our school for the next few years. Girls were often heartbroken, crying on the playground, over jewelry lost in the dissolving of friendships. I couldn’t understand any of it. When I was handed a half-heart, it always said “-EST -ENDS,” I always accepted, even though I didn’t understand the game. It was always eventually taken from me.

            By the time I got to high school, the very concept of “BEST FRIENDS” scared the heck out of me. I was fortunate to have a bunch of close girlfriends in high school, some of whom I still hold in my heart. Melissa always wanted to hang out, to talk, to sit next to me in the cafeteria. Jackie found me my very first boyfriend. And Katie and I spent so many hours together running, lifeguarding, eating, double-dating, and (occasionally) arguing we may as well have been sisters. But each of these girls seemed to have other friends who were actually the “best”. I avoided those words in high school.

            But I thought about them.  I would often think about girls who were obviously best friends. I would wonder how they knew, how they chose, how they managed to hold onto each other without one tearing the other down as I had experienced in my elementary school.

            I thought I’d missed the Best Friend Boat.

            But then I went to college at Notre Dame and I met Linda. She was the silly girl who lived across the hall from me, who had grown up only hours from my house, who was fun and nerdy and warm and open-minded and almost-never shy. Who could make anyone laugh, even that someone was also crying. We were fast friends.

            We spent hours in the Lafortune Student Center (the table in the basement, closest to the door). We would study and talk and laugh and share big cups of Mr. Pibb Xtra and slices of greasy Sbarro pizza. We were there so often people would come looking for us. This was in the era of AOL Instant Messenger and before WiFi, so we would leave “Away Messages” on index card with highlighters— “Going to the dining hall”, “Back at the dorm for a shower.”

            When we walked around campus, we hopped over the cracks in the sidewalks without even halting our conversations. We went out dancing and sometimes did silly dance moves in unison without thinking. Linda loved science and she would tell me all the fascinating things she learned. She taught me more about science than I ever learned from my teachers. She would read short stories  I wrote for my creative writing classes. We’d wear each other’s clothes without asking.

            I don’t know if we ever called each other best friends in college. I know we didn’t use that term to limit each other. We had other friends and it was clear that some were closer to one of us than the other, but we didn’t use that to hurt each other. And when the girls around us engaged in pointless drama, Linda was my respite and I was hers. She made friendship easy. And we always made each other laugh.

            When Linda and Nestor (her long-time crush) finally started dating, I was ready for it to change the dynamic of our relationship, but it brought us closer. He was so great, he made her even more Linda.

            When we were forced to graduate, we fantasized about digging holes in the quad and burying ourselves side-by-side, refusing to ever leave. The joke was because of how much we loved Notre Dame (and we still do). But we only wanted to stay there if we could be together.

            Of course our relationship has changed. We’ve become professionals (Linda is a SuperSmart Scientist, to use the technical term). We’ve moved far away from each other. We’ve each gotten married. And we’ve had a few conversations that skirted close to fights. (Example: Linda once told me I was dating someone who wasn’t good for me. I didn’t want to hear it. She was right. There was no yelling.) There are times when we feel so close it’s like she can read my mind. But there are weeks and months when we don’t have the time and the gaps between us feel larger. I miss her when this happens, but it doesn’t hurt. 

            So, I’ll say the words now. We’re best friends and we have been since our late teens. Our best-friendship is so close to idyllic it’s actually comical. We make each other laugh in every conversation (even the sad ones.) We know and love each other’s families and other best friends. We were college roommates. We share a birthday (May 6th). We were “best women” in each other’s weddings (two years apart). And, in a crazy twist of fate, I married Linda’s husband’s best friend and college roommate. (Yes, really.)

            That’s pretty good for a girl who grew up afraid of the very words “BEST FRIENDS”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Liz Fichera's Best Friend

Liz is an author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago. Her YA debut HOOKED released in January 2013 from Harlequin TEEN. Its companion, PLAYED, releases in 2014. Find her at her website here!  Liz's first book HOOKED was released in January 2013 and the follow up PLAYED will release in 2014!

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


So...on to the talk about FRIENDS. Did you have a best friend in high school? If you did, are you still in touch?
LF: Yes I had a best friend, not we're not still in touch.

What do you miss most about the best friend?
LF: I miss that she knew me better than I knew myself. She knew whenever I was having a bad day and would always draw it out of me.  I could tell her anything. And I did.  She also loved to read my stories.

Did you ever have a big fight? 
LF: Yes, of course! She didn’t like a couple of my boyfriends and wasn’t afraid to let me know. Sometimes we wouldn’t speak for a while as I stewed.   As much as it pains me to admit it, she was always right.

Did you have a favorite song, or a favorite place where you hung out?
LF: We’d usually hang at my house.  We both loved old movies and The Carol Burnett Show. 

What did you and your best friend most love to do?
LF: Laugh. We’d love to laugh together about silly things.  Her laugh was infectious.  We also loved to play tennis.  She was an excellent tennis player.

Who was your best teen friend?
LF: My best friend has always been my mother, even when I was a teen.  She passed away in 2012.


I'm so sorry for your loss. On one hand you were so very lucky to have had your Mom as your best friend. On the other hand, it is so tragic that you lost her.  She must have been very proud to know that you were going to become a published author. I'm sorry she's not here to enjoy it with you.  Now everyone, go and hug your mom please.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Hello! And yes! It's HOW I LOST YOU that hits the shelves!!
I'm super excited about this book and hope that you love it as much as I do.  Here's the official blurb...

HOW I LOST YOU by Janet Gurtler

There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kyla Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected and suddenly the person who's always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are about to find out how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.
Order or pick up HOW I LOST YOU at your favorite book store!!!
So you may have noticed that I'm blogging about best friends all month long...and I thought I'd take a moment on my release day to write about another teen best friend of mine.
I blogged about a middle school friend break-up that kind of inspired HOW I LOST YOU...              Read about it here 
Luckily in Grades Ten and Eleven I had a new best friend. (I moved again in Grade 12) Her name was Rosalyn and she had red hair and a fabulous laugh. We got into trouble and talked and laughed and listened to 80's music that still makes me happy!  
Me and Rosalyn at a beach party!
  We had crushes on unattainable boys and stayed out way later than we should have and somehow made it through those years without harming ourselves or anyone else!
Rosalyn and I worked together at Ponderosa until I moved away. I had a rough year after I moved and after high school she eventually moved to a new city and we lost touch. Funny enough, I moved to the same city years later and we ran into each other at the grocery store! She was pregnant with her third baby and I was getting married. (I was a late bloomer) We went for coffee a few times and chatted about the old days. 
Later when my son was about four we went to a new dentist and Rosalyn was the hygienist there. She even came to my first book signing (when I wrote under my maiden name) and laughed because the cover of that book looked like the boy I'd been crazy about in high school.
We're not in touch anymore but Rosalyn will always have a special place in my heart. She was a great girl to hang out with and she turned out really well.  We both grew up! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Holly Schindler Talks Teen Friends

Today on the JG bloggity blog, we're talking to Holly Schindler! Holly is author of the YA novels A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT. (Hello. . Blue so Dark, Starred Reviews and accolades and ssooo good!)


So let's get to teen friends. Did you have a best friend in high school? If you did, are you still in touch in any way?

HS: I had a bunch of friends who came and went during my pre-teen and early-teen years. The friends I’m still in touch with today came into my life during my late-teen years. Many of those late-teen friendships happened by accident…

As an eighteen-year-old college freshman, I scheduled my first-semester composition course in the science building (I wasn’t familiar with the buildings on campus when I registered, and didn’t realize the class was nearly in another zip code from the other courses I was taking). I kept it, rather than switch it up, and wound up becoming really close friends with a science major who was taking the same class. I also met and hung out (and often played music) with many of his friends. I spent quite a bit of time, those first couple of years of college, being the lone English major in a large group of people I affectionately referred to as my science geeks.

Like I said, I’m still in touch with a couple of them. We’re scattered, living in different states now, but when they come back to Missouri, we still get together to catch up over coffee, and we still email on a regular basis.

…I was just emailing one of those old “science geeks” the other day—and thinking about how funny it is that one happy accident led to our friendship. If I’d known anything about the buildings on campus, we’d never have met!

Awesome. Kind of like fate, if you're inclined to believe in that sort of thing. Which I am. Can you think of something a best friend did for you, that probably no other person would ever do?

HS: Another friend I had at eighteen—this one wasn’t a science geek, but an art major—and I used to play quite a bit of music together. I remember one night in particular, we were out late and decided to play. We didn’t want to disturb anyone sleeping at our houses, so we grabbed our guitars and wound up playing in the pottery studio where he was working at the time.

It’s actually one of my absolute favorite college memories—I mean, college can be so stressful, and I took it really seriously. I was always studying, always reading, always working on another paper. But there was something so sweet about the two of us playing that night until the wee hours. It was a bit like we were the only two people in the world…I was able to completely forget all the stresses and completely unwind and have a good time. It was really simple—but sometimes, those are the things we remember with the greatest fondness…

 A good student! Good for you. I took college way more seriously than high school too. Well. I was better behaved in college anyhow. So what did you love most about you teenage friends?

HS: I’m a big one for humor. I think a sense of humor’s a good indication of intelligence. It’s the first thing that draws me to a person, and the thing that always endears them to me…

 Oh. Me too, me too. That's one of the first things I'm attracted to. Laughing together is the best!
What drove you most crazy about a teen best friend?
HS: In my teens, I was big into vintage clothing, put together in an oddball way. One of my old science geek friends used to like to give me grief for it.
Typical conversation:
Friend: THAT’S a funky outfit.
Me: Thanks!
Friend: It wasn’t a compliment!
Me: Sticks tongue out at friend.
That's great though, because you both stuck to who you were and even though you teased you accepted it. Love. So...what did you learn from your best teen friend?

HS: When I was 18, I had friends who were my own age, but I also had some friends—mostly music buddies—who were older than I was…some by as much as ten years! Those older friends were on their second attempts to finish school (they’d come back after time spent in the service, or a divorce, or deciding they wanted a better shot at a decent job). It sounds a bit dry, but I think the most valuable lesson I got from them was about debt.
I saw how fast loans added up, watching my older friends. Nothing wrong with taking out a few loans, of course. I know many people who never would have gotten out of school without them. But I got really adverse to it. (Okay, I’ve always been pretty conservative with money. But I got REALLY anti-debt during college.)

I spent many afternoons at the kitchen table with my mom, working out our money situation. Between my folks’ help and my scholarships, I was able to get out of college with a master’s degree, owing absolutely nothing.

It turned out to be one of the greatest gifts in my life, being debt-free. Shortly after graduation, the economy started its downward spiral. Like many families, mine pulled together, all of us living under the same roof, supporting each other. As a result of that family support

I was able to devote full-time attention to my writing. But the path to publication wasn’t an easy one—even though my master’s was in creative writing. I still had a ton to learn. And I never would have been able to devote year after year after year to only my writing, if I’d taken out loans. I would have had to pursue full-time employment instead. The ability to start adult life without debt really made an incredible difference.

I'm completely impressed. I *may* not be the most responsible person in the world when it comes to finances. I certainly never learned about it in my teen years. Actually when I think about it, one of my best friends in high school was SOOO good with her money. We had part time jobs together and she saved almost all of hers. Me. Um. Not so much.

Anyhow, Holly, thanks so much for stopping by to talk about teen friends!!! Good luck with your MG debut and the next YA you have coming out!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

SCOTT BLAGDEN and his Teen Best Friend

Hurray! Today we get to peer into the secret life of teen boy friends! And who better to do it with than Scott Blagden. Now I've never met Scott, but as SOON as I saw his website I wanted to be his friend. Seriously... Read This I DARE you not to like him!

His book has been on my to-read and I moved it to the top!! It just recently came out and the cover caught my eye immediately!

I think Scott needs to meet my YA writer friend, Geoff Herbach. I am guessing they would get along. And that is a compliment to Scott. Geoff is weird and cool.

Anyhow!!! This is about SCOTT!

SCOTT BLAGDEN grew up in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and now makes his home on the coast near Cape Cod, where he enjoys being a dad to his teenage twins. In addition to writing, he has been self-employed in real estate for thirty years. Dear Life, You Suck is his first novel.

Okay. Let's get to the friends stuff. 

Scott and Tim 1986
Did you have a best friend in high school? If you did, are you still in touch?

SB: Yes, my best friend was Tim Curren and in fact we became best friends in 2nd grade and are still best friends, which is kind of bizarre considering we’ll both turn 50 this year. He lives in Texas now and I live in Massachusetts so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like.

Um. Cool. I never imagine boys staying friends that long, but perhaps that's because I was never a boy! Did you ever have a big fight? What was it about? How did you resolve it?

SB: I remember one major fight and I’m sure there were other minor ones. The major one was kinda sorta my fault. We were driving in his car in high school and we had some fire crackers and I thought it would be funny to light one and throw it out the window (which of course was stupid – kids, don’t try this at home) so I did, but I threw it toward the front of the car and it rolled across the hood and then rolled down behind the hood and into the engine. Tim jammed the brakes on and shut the car off because he was afraid the engine might catch on fire which I suppose was a legitimate concern that I hadn’t considered. Anyway, the car didn’t catch on fire but Tim was really mad and I don’t think we spoke for a couple days but we finally just spoke about it and everything was fine.

Um. This is why I'm nervous about my son turning 16 and getting his driver's license. Pretty funny in retrospect though. Did you have a favorite place where you hung out?

SB: We used to hang out at these sand pits in our town where lots of high school kids hung out on weekends and we’d have bonfires and drink beer and generally act stupid.

Yes. That sounds about right. So, what did you and your best friend most love to do?

SB: Just hang out. No matter where we were or what we were doing, it was always fun because we cracked each other up.

That's awesome. I am definitely getting a sense of your teen self.  So what did you love most about you teenage best friend?

 SB: We had similar senses of humor and that’s what I liked most about our friendship because we were always laughing. Except when the stuff we did in elementary school (like spit Jello out of our mouths at lunchtime or punt footballs through fluorescent lights in classrooms during detention, probably in detention because of the Jello incidents) got us sent to the principal’s office, which was often, or when the teachers would make us move our desks right next to theirs for the whole class, which was humiliating, especially if our desks were still there during parent/teacher conferences, which sometimes happened.

I can't decide if you are more like my husband as a boy or my son. Which kind of scares me. Ha ha. So what did you learn from your best teen friend?

SB: The meaning of loyalty and trust in friendship. We could tell each other anything without the fear of it being used against us even when we weren’t getting along.

That is awesome!!! Again it's so nice to hear about boys/men having that kind of friendship. No wonder you stayed friends! So. Are is your relationship different at this stage in your life? How?
SB: Things are extremely different now. We both have families and responsibilities, so we’re “responsible adults” when we’re together, as opposed to “irresponsible idiots” like we were in our younger years. We talk on the phone more than hanging out. And the conversations generally involve adult stuff as opposed to figuring out how to get past the police with our ladder so we can sleep on the high school roof on graduation night.

Probably a good thing for all of us! But the great thing as a YA author is you get to re-visit that part of your life again and again.  YA Authors. We never really grow up!!

Thanks so much Scott, I can't wait to read your book!!!

by Scott Bagden

Irreverent, foulmouthed seventeen-year-old Cricket is the oldest ward in a Catholic boys’ home in Maine—and his life sucks. With prospects for the future that range from professional fighter to professional drug dealer, he seems doomed to a life of “criminal rapscallinity.” In fact, things look so bleak that Cricket can’t help but wonder if his best option is one final cliff dive into the great unknown. But then Wynona Bidaban steps into his world, and Cricket slowly realizes that maybe, just maybe, life doesn’t totally suck.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Teen Mandy Hubbard and her Best Friend

I'm so excited to share MANDY HUBBARD and her best friend from high school with you! As you probably know, Mandy is a SUPERWOMAN! Author/agent/mom...the list goes on and on. Mandy is one of those people who is always busy and seems to thrive on it! She's pretty amazing and super nice as well! Plus TRES talented. And gorgeous. Author of many wonderful YA books, Mandy also writes under Amanda Grace and her new book, THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME comes out this September! Can't wait!

So. Let's do this thing...did you have a best friend in high school? If you did, are you still in touch?

 MH: Yes. Her name was (is!) Rachel. Our Moms grew up two blocks apart, so we've known each other since we were born. She's a year younger than me. We grew up on horseback, riding every single day after school. Our first serious boyfriends were the boys next door. They were brothers.

 So that's almost like a YA novel. With horses. UM. You should write it! Boys and horses!!!So, did you ever have a big fight? What was it about? How did you resolve it?

MH: We've never really had huge blow outs, although we certainly had times in school where we spent more time with other people than each other. People grow and change and evolve, and since we never had actual classes together we didn't necessarily hang out constantly. Now we're both married with kids and we live a couple of miles apart. :-)

How cool is that? I think it's so cool when people stay friends for their whole lives. If you never fight, what’s something your best friend did for you, that probably no other person would do.

MH: Rachel is one of those people who is ALWAYS there when you need her, whether it's for a kick-ass bachelorette party or weekend at the lake or just hanging out for a couple of hours. She's just super dependable and she knows how to have fun, and I always look forward to hanging out with her.  

Rachel's Wedding
I am intrigued about the bachelorette party. Think of it present day teens. Someday you and your bestie might plan a BACHLORETTE PARTY together. Um. FUN!!!! So did you have a favorite song? 

Mandy's Wedding!
 MH: We once taped our own "music videos" in her bedroom using her mom's camcorder. She sang Alan Jackson's Chatahootchie, her favorite song of all time. I sang Independence Day by Martina McBride. I distinctly remember waving little plastic flags around as I sang. I really hope she never finds those tapes. Or that by the time she does, no one can find a VCR.

Are you kidding. That would be freaking AWESOME to see. Hmm. Next time I come to your end of the world, I'm going to search out the missing video tape....So what did you and your best friend most love to do?

MH: We were total country girls. We went camping in the sand dunes with our four-wheelers or rode horses all day. Our first real jobs were mucking stalls at a stable close to my house. We'd turn on the radio and work on stalls across the aisle from each other, gossiping the whole time. Then we'd ride our horses back home.

 At one point we made "rules" for the weekends/summers because we were worried we would wear out our (admittedly old) horses.

The rule was we could only ride three times a day.

I am so jealous of your teen/country years. No wonder you grew up so well rounded and kick butt!!! What did you learn from your best teen friend?

MH: Rachel has always been way more fashionable than me. I remember in the 5th grade, she used to lay out her outfits and she ALWAYS had a sweatershirt just for tying around her waist, and she did this little flippy thing with her bangs that would have looked stupid on me. Fastforward 18 years and that's still the dynamic-- sometimes I make her go shopping with me so that she can tell me what to buy. I'm hopeless and meanwhile she has killer heels for every outfit.

You are not hopeless!! But I know what you mean. I have friends who can throw together an outfit like it's nothing and me... well..not so much! So are your relationships with friends different at this stage in your life? How?

MH: Yeah, definitely. I'm super busy, career-driven (those books don't write themselves!) and I don't make as much time for friends as I should! Rachel always seems to understand, and when we hang out it's like we've been hanging out every day. It's never awkward or weird. Rachel, I would steal a cat with you any day. Or a gigantic political sign, but lets not get the car stuck this time. 

 Rachel sounds like an amazing friend!!! An amazing cat stealing understanding friend. So glad you have each other!!! Thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to chat Mandy.
Can't wait to read more Mandy Hubbard/Amanda Grace books!!!


By Amanda Grace

Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.

Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured—and missed out on—in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.

There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen—because she hasn't told him the truth.

The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet—both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Wonderful Post About Friendship You Must Read by Lauren Bjorkman

The title of this post pretty much says it all. And also, you MUST read Miss Fortune Cookie.
Today Lauren Bjorkman writes an honest post about how hard best friends can be. Even when you love them.

An incident from my own life inspired the friendship and betrayal story in Miss Fortune Cookie. Here it is:

I spent most of my childhood aboard a sailboat. The shock of returning home to Palo Alto and entering the 7th grade nearly killed me. Not really, but my first experience with mascara went horribly wrong. And other things went worse than that. After a bumpy start, I made friends with a girl that wore a back-brace up to her chin for scoliosis. I’ll call her W— to protect the innocent. Despite the brace, she was always cheerful, kind, and funny. We both had jobs delivering newspapers. We both loved movies and Swensen’s ice cream. She called me short stuff.

The summer between middle and high school, my dad and I weren’t getting along, so my grandma invited me to live with her in Pasadena. W— and I wrote letters to each other. By hand. On paper. Sent in envelopes with stamps on them. I’m that old. In the letters, we kept up our usual teasing banter. I may have gotten too extreme one time, though. I may have called her egg nose. *cringe* I regretted it afterwards. Blame my unhappiness about fighting with my dad.
When I returned to Palo Alto for school in the fall, W— kept making excuses for not hanging out. We didn’t have a single class together. Not long after that, she moved out of our shared locker. I knew she dumped me because of my letters. Embarrassed, I let the friendship fade away.

That same year I met a new girl in European History. At first, it didn’t seem that we had much in common. But there’s an indefinable part of friendship that has nothing to do with mutual interests. She was fun. Full of life and light. We both liked to cook and we both LOVED to eat. I still remember the decadent strawberry blintzes she made the first time I came over. We’ll call her L—. Later we realized we’d both had lost our mothers, and that drew us closer together.

Fast forward to sophomore year. My science class was so boring that I was always on the verge of screaming and jumping out the window. Luckily I made a new friend, B—, that taught me to play a new game called dots to pass the time. Weirdly, B— happened to be friends with W— and L—, and one day she invited me to join them for lunch. When I agreed, I worried about potential awkwardness with W—. But no. W— didn’t gush over me, nor did she ice me out. Being with her reminded me of my past evil self, and what I’d lost because of my overly witty insults, but the group suited me. I felt like I belonged.
A sidebar on friendship: The term “best friend” irks me, and here’s why. After W— and I “broke up,” I never again had a best friend in the traditional sense. I might’ve considered L—my best friend, except she had W—. They spent a lot of time with each other and went on family trips together like traditional besties. I had another close friend, but she also had a close friend that wasn’t me.
Sometime during junior year, B—‘s parents went out of town, and she threw a boys + alcohol party. I was supposed to sleep over after the party. It started out fun, but after drinking too much, B— kissed her best friend’s ex. Screaming, crying, and throwing up ensued. I wanted to leave. My dad would’ve freaked, so I called L— to rescue me. Before I fell asleep at her house, we shared details about the deaths of our moms, and our friendship got more serious.

Our lunch group didn’t survive the devastation after the party. Throughout that year and the next, I hung out with L—, W—, and others that came and went.  After graduation, L— and W— went to Europe together. It made me jealous, but not freaky, stalkery, crazy jealous. I felt sure my friendship with L— would continue into college and beyond.
It did. We both went to UC Davis, hung out a lot, and took trips together during college and afterwards. But when L— got married, she asked W— to be her maid of honor. That’s the problem with the best friends model. Someone is always second best. Usually me.

At L—‘s wedding, I decided to talk to W— about what had happened between us the summer after middle school. During the reception, I sat down next to her. “I’ve always felt bad that I wrecked our friendship with my obnoxiousness,” I said. “I’m really sorry.” She looked at me quietly for a long time. Then she looked at the floor. “That’s not how I remember it,” she said. “When I met L— in 8th grade, I didn’t want her to meet you. I thought you’d take her away from me.”

I’d felt guilty for years for hurting W—‘s feelings. But she’d “broken” up with me to keep me from meeting her new friend. To be honest, it was slightly flattering that she considered me a threat. Of course, that also meant she chose L—over me, which was slightly less flattering. Oh well.

Moral of the story: Anyone who tells you that they were happy in middle school is either aberrant, demented, or lying.
I still exchange the occasional email with W—. We had breakfast together after our last high school reunion. She’s charming, funny, and easy to talk to.

L— and I and our families settled in small town in New Mexico so that we could keep hanging out. L—‘s daughter and my son are freshman at the local high school.
I love L— immensely. Though L— now calls me her best friend, I don’t like the term, though, and don’t use it.
Lauren Bjorkman studied Mandarin at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. On her honeymoon in China, she learned to pick up a single grain of rice with chopsticks. She lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her husband and two sons. She is also the author of My Invented Life. laurenbjorkman.com
  MISS FORTUNE COOKIEMeet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the opular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.
It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.
What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Friend in the Boston Marathon

As part of this Best Friend Series, I've been planning on writing some posts about some of the best friends I have had. I moved around a lot and so made and lost best friends over the years.  And then yesterday I was brought to tears because one of my best friends.  Not because of. For.
She is in Boston, and finished running the Boston Marathon minutes before the bombs went off. She is okay. But I was sick when I saw the news break on Twitter. I ran to the phone (which if you know me is not normal at all) and called her husband. He is a good friend to me as well.  He told me she finished. She and her sister were in the family area. They were okay. But man. It hit me hard.  Because I know her. I know her kids. I know her family and I am horrified. People died. People have been injured. And what should have been an amazing accomplishment for one of my friends is now going to be a tarnished memory.  
My friend Jana is an extrovert. She is a fireball. A firecracker. An amazing person on so many levels. We met when our son’s were babies. In many ways we probably never would have been friends otherwise. She is almost ten years younger than me. She is type A, 100 percent. I am laid back and move through life way slower. But we bonded over our son’s  and the more I got to know her over the years, the more I love and respect her. We are very different people. And sometimes I think our differences drive each other crazy. But ironically they also allow us to stay great friends.  Balance.
My friend came to Canada all alone, chased out of her home country Bosnia, by war. I was touched when she first shared the story of how she left her country. All alone. Money sewn into her jeans. She has worked amazingly hard to have the life she has. She is fearless. Our son’s (her first born, my only) are still friends today.  I love her kids like my own and I would do pretty much anything for her or them.
By nature, I am introverted, which means I sometimes suck at being a great friend. I’m not the one who initiates things and I guess that’s why many of my best friends are extroverts, because they initiate things and force me to follow through.  Jana did. I think it takes me longer to become friends and I’m not as good at is as some are, but I think when I am a friend, I’m kind of in it for life.  And Jana will always be special to me. Always.
We don’t see each other as often now. I am busy with my writing and she is busy training. For marathons. Iron Men.  100 km trail runs. She is amazing and she is strong. She qualified for the Boston Marathon the first marathon she ever ran. And did I mention amazing. She’s got the toughest heart but also is also one of the most caring and nurturing people I know. I love her.
And so, she was in Boston to run the marathon.
And when I thought something might have happened to her it hit home HARD.  I’d been on Twitter. Saw the news and checked her Facebook. Talked to her husband. And she was okay. Thank God. She is there with her sister and both of them have been through war. And that makes things hit home harder too.  Because it’s almost like we’re in one now. The world. And that’s freaking scary.
Many people were affected by the tragedy and my heart goes out to them all. But most of all my heart goes out to my friend who trained and worked so hard to get there, and was so happy and proud of her accomplishment…qualifying for the marathon all over again, not an easy thing to do…until the bombs went off and changed everything.
I’m so glad she’s okay. And so sorry for the people who aren’t. Because for a few minutes there, it actually touched my life because I was so worried about my friend. And her family. And that really does make you realize how close it’s all getting.
I hope that we can do something a little later to help her celebrate finishing the marathon and getting a personal best time and re-qualifying for the event. It's a big accomplishment. Huge. Right now it is overshadowed, but it is what it is. Let's revisit it later.  After we have time to mourn what and who was lost.