Last week one of my kids asked me how they could get the courage to talk to someone they have a crush on.
Now I only have one high school Crush Story where I exhibited bravery. It was at a high school graduation party and I approached the boy I’d been crushing on for two years and asked him to dance.
He said no.
On the surface, it’s not such a great story.
Except for the part where I actually asked the boy I’d been crushing on to dance.
That was huge. Major bravery. And yeah, while I know all my kid wants right now is for this other kid to like them back, there is value in vulnerability.
Being vulnerable is how we open ourselves to the good stuff.
Okay so the good stuff doesn’t always show up, and risking emotional exposure can be terrifying. It’s not easy to be ALL IN.
But I know that the times I’ve risked rejection, disappointment, and embarrassment, it’s because I’ve been listening to my heart. Being me. And I don’t know, my arms get tired holding up those walls of protection.
Sure, there are days (lots of them) when all I want to do is hide, but eventually what I end up wanting to remember, is that it’s not the win or the loss that counts, but how we listen to our hearts, and allow ourselves the opportunity for joy.
How do you muster courage? Do you have any crush advice?
Reader Paparazzi is my Q & A series spotlighting YA readers (if you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above). I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration, or to learn what holds a teen’s interest, or simply find a new book to read.
But it’s not only teens reading Young Adult novels. The popularity of YA spans the generations. Wikipedia says the typical age range is from ten to twenty-five, but I know plenty of adults are reading it. Plus, the categories of New Adult or Upper YA throw off the typical range also.
More than half of the eighty books I’ve read this year have been YA. Although I guess I don’t count since I also write YA–and because I’m just barely over twenty-five.
Anyhoo, today I bring you an interview with a college student. Ancient, I know. But Amanda is a prolific YA reader. She blogs about the books she reads over at her site Born Bookish. Check it out. You can find great reviews and segments like Breathtaking Book Covers and Wordlover Wednesday.
A big Reader Paparazzi hello to Amanda!
Amanda, what book are you reading right now?
You actually caught me in-between books! I started The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore a couple of months ago but have been so busy with review books I haven’t been able to finish it. Next up, is Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday.
I am a fan of The Number Four series! Of course, every time I go to your blog, I find new titles for my to-read pile!
Okay, now let’s get serious. What did you eat for dinner last night?
Macaroni & Cheese. Not the kind out of a box, I actually went out to eat and got fancy schmancy Mac & Cheese.
Yum! What was your favorite book when you were younger?
I can only pick one? Wow, that’s hard. I’m going to go with Abby: South Sea Adventures series by Pamela Walls.
What do you hope you will be doing five years from now?
I hope that I will have a job in the field of Graphic Design, one that I will enjoy doing everyday.
What are you most looking forward to right now?
My trip to London that I’ll be taking over Winter Break!
Sounds amazing. London is definitely on my bucket list.
What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?
So many things . . . American Sign Language is something I’ve always wanted to learn–and how to play violin.
What fictional character would you most like to meet and why?
I have to think about this one for a minute . . . Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter because she is a spy, and what girl didn’t dream of being a spy when she was little?!
Yes, but all that intrigue can make a spy girl hungry!
So back to food. What is your favorite comfort food?
Chicken and stuffing
Top 3 songs playing on your iPod?
Small Bump- Ed Sheeran
Red- Taylor Swift
The Writer- Ellie Goulding (I just bought concert tickets for an Ellie concert tonight! I’m SO excited!)
You have a great blog segment on book covers—how important is the cover to you when choosing a book to read?
So important! If a book has a great cover it is pretty much guaranteed that I will at least pick it up, read the synopsis and decide from there. If I dislike a cover I won’t even bother reading the back. I know that’s horrible, but it’s the designer in me. I just can’t read a book if I hate the cover.
If you could Skype with anyone—who would you pick?
Does Perry the Platypus count? No? Okay. Then I would choose Taylor Swift.
Quick fire fill in the blank:
I fear: Heights
I need: Chocolate
I love: Family
I am inspired by: Nature
Favorite word from your Wordlover Wednesday series: Lollygag
As in enough of. Got it.
Thank you Amanda!
Now, because Reader Paparazzi gets me feeling extra stalkerish and curious, tell me, what did YOU have for dinner last night?
I did NOT have Halloween candy for dinner.
Have an awesome week!
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It’s summer–schools are empty, teens are scarce–on vacation, at camp, or watching YouTube videos working summer jobs . . .
but Reader Paparazzi ~ my Q & A series featuring teen readers ~ must go on. I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration or simply if you want to see what holds a teen’s interest.
It’s research, not stalking.
If you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above.
For this interview, I’ve cornered a teen close to home.
Meet Gavin, or as I have a habit of calling him, “G.”
G is sixteen. He runs cross-country and track, sings in his school’s chorus and a capella club and is famous on the internet.
Well, sort of.
Have you heard of trolling, or better yet seen this face before?
G is the number one image on Google for the perfect troll face.
A face only a mother could love . . .
but it’s hard to catch him NOT making faces:
I’m partial to this one:
A big hello to G!
So G, what makes you want to pick up a book to read?
It’s got to have something I can relate to.
What are you currently reading?
Moby Dick, for school.
Anything you relate to?
I don’t know, but reading this book is becoming AHABit.
I’m not sure if I believe you, but props on the pun.
What was the last book you read that wasn’t for school?
Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Do you ever re-read books?
Yup. I like to flip through the Guinness Book of World Records and the World Atlas.
What was your favorite book when you were younger?
Captain Underpants and Harry Potter
Favorite subject in school?
What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?
Learn more languages—like Swedish and German.
Okay, I received some questions from YA writers curious about teen relationships (ie dating). What do you think is the most challenging thing about relationships?
What was the last movie you saw?
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Favorite tv show or movie you can watch again and again?
The Invention of Lying
Tell me three songs you’re listening to on your iPod:
The More I See You ~ Michael Buble
The Way You Look Tonight ~ Michael Buble
Flavour ~Bare Noize
What’s your favorite snack?
What did you eat for breakfast?
Nothing because I’m fasting for the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’ Av, but yesterday for breakfast I ate Frosted Cheerios.
I’m so hungry can we please not talk about food?
Okay, no more food talk. 🙂
Some quick-fire fill in the blanks:
I fear change.
I need clarity.
I hate homework.
I love singing.
So here’s a tiny snippet of G doing what he loves:
Do you have any questions you want answered by teens in future Q & As? Or a question for Gavin? Let me know in the comments.
If not, how would you answer this quick fire fill in the blank? I need _____. (Seeing as it’s now Monday morning, I NEED COFFEE!)
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~C.S. Lewis
When I was a teenager I dreamed big.
In one of my diaries I wrote in detail about my future house and backyard: “537 acres” complete with a “show barn and stables.”
I also wrote that I wanted to be a YA novelist and a big time screenwriter (obviously I would need two jobs to afford that kind of acreage, especially with the fancy pool tiles I detailed–you can read more on my diary in this post).
I dreamed with abandon.
But for most everything else I seemed to check myself. I never wore all black or any clothes that might make me stand out. I never dyed my hair wild colors. Once I dyed it black, but I changed it back to blonde the same day.
“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
― A.A. Milne
Was I muting my individuality?
I mean I liked wild colors and glittery things. I loved flipping through my Seventeen magazine (especially the back to school issue) to see all the fun outfits and makeup. I would try all the fancy eye shadow techniques, but yea, I edited when I ventured out into the world (except for colored mascara. I loved that stuff–especially the electric blue color).
But I also wanted to blend in. I’m sure now a part of that was inhibition, but a bigger part has been the discovery of how I fit in my own skin and realizing that I have my own preferences for how I choose to be in the world. I know now that part of my individuality is that I’m happier in the role of observer, that I like to take my excitement from the world around me in bits and pieces instead of all at once.
But how does an introvert (who dreams like an extrovert) portray herself to the world?
Anyway she wants?
Okay so maybe wild hair isn’t really me. Dyeing it was certainly messy and I didn’t like that my hair felt like straw. Plus, when the Blue Envy dye dried, it flaked. I had Smurf Dandruff all over my clothes and bathroom.
And my shower as I washed the temporary dye out of my hair?
It was Avatar meets Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
But even with the mess, it was all totally worth it to see the looks on my kids’ faces. In their eyes I could see they thought I’d unleashed a can of Crazy (I’m definitely filing away this experience for YA writing research. If I’m ever at a loss for how to “torture” my main character, all I have to do is have the parent dye their hair).
And I still think glossy blue (read: salon created) hair like Katy Perry has, is pretty.
After seeing her movie Katy Perry: Part of Me last week, I felt inspired (and not just “follically”). I especially loved the videos of young kids who felt supported by her music, who expressed their feelings of being okay with being different and found a way to be a little more comfortable inside their own skins.
“You’re original, cannot be replaced.”
~Katy Perry, Firework
Taking to heart the message it’sokay to be who you are is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes (like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz) we don’t realize that we’ve had the power within us all along.
Oh the tricky, elusive power of self-acceptance.
I think one way to harness it is by dreaming (BIG!) and then making every effort to make those dreams come true. Because often our dreams are uncensored. And there’s a confidence to be gained when we follow our dreams. The kind of confidence that allows an introvert to blog–or post blue haired photos.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” ― Paulo Coelho, Alchemist
I love the possibilities– in dreaming, writing, blogging and even dyeing my hair. So yea, it can be okay to blend in, but make sure you keep yourself open to possibility. Open to your dreams.
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
~Henry David Thoreau
What are your teenage dreams? What things are you inhibited or uninhibited about?
I’m excited to bring you another Reader Paparazzi post–my Q & A series featuring teens. (If you missed the others, click here or on the tab in the header above.)
I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration or simply if you want to see what holds a teen’s interest (it’s not always sparkly things).
It’s research, not stalking.
This week our real YA is 17, a rising senior and an aspiring writer!
A big HELLO to Niki!
So, NIki, what book are you reading right now?
Right now I’m in a book frenzy! Especially with summer coming up! Right now I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire and Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin as well as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.
What makes you want to pick up a book to read?
Reading has always been my favorite hobby. I’m a writer too, so any book that will help enhance my writing is a must.
What’s your favorite class in school? What’s your toughest subject?
My favorite class is AP Art History, and my toughest subject is AP Biology.
What is your favorite thing to do after school? What is your least favorite?
My favorite thing to do is read! Especially if I’m in the middle of a really good book. Also, I love talking to my best friend. She lives in Brazil, so I never get to see her. My least favorite thing to do is homework.
If you could Skype with a famous person who would that be?
I would probably want to Skype with Emilia Clarke. She plays my favorite character in Game of Thrones.
Top three songs playing on your iPod?
The Cave- Mumford and Sons Rainy Zurich- The Fray Enchanted- Taylor Swift
What was the last movie you saw?
On the Waterfront
What advice would you give your parents?
Probably to trust me more. They’re really great parents, but sometimes I feel that they’re a little overprotective especially my mom.
What is your biggest fear?
To graduate from college and not be able to find a job and pay off the ridiculously expensive student loans!
What are you looking forward to most right now?
Duke Young Writers’ Camp this summer! All of my best friends are there!
What is your favorite comfort food?
Probably a tie between Sweet Frog frozen yogurt and Sour Patch candy.
And lastly, what is something you would like to learn how to do?
Oh gosh! I would probably want to learn how to speak Greek. That’s where my family is from, and it would be nice to learn how to communicate better with them.
Thanks for stopping by Niki! It was great to get to know you better.
Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Do you have any questions you want answered in future Q & As? Let me know in the comments.
Sometimes we look for signs anywhere– horoscopes, the weather, dreams. When I was younger I remember consulting the Magic 8 ball when it came to matters of boys great import.
Did you know that Google is also on that list? I realized that last week when I looked at the list of search engine words that led internet surfers to my site.
High on that list was one of the great philosophical questions, Where’s Waldo? (because of this post), but a very close second was Liam Payne, member of the crazy popular British boy band One Direction. Thanks to my YA reader friend Lydia, fans have been stopping by after Google searching for All Things Liam.
But by far the most interesting search phrase that landed one of those fans on my blog (and got me seeing Google as this generation’s Magic 8 ball), was this:
A sign that Liam Payne loves me.
Now I don’t believe I have any sort of psychic powers, BUT I do believe in the power of hope.
Hope got me through many crushes in high school.
Oh and believe me, I looked for signs that me and my crush were meant to be EVERYWHERE.
Like seeing his initials.
Or looking at the clock just when it showed his birthday.
Or turning on the car to hear his song on the radio.
My BF and I even hung out outside of Chrysler Hall simply because our boy band crush sang there once upon a time. I think we thought we could still breathe some of his air there.
Hope had us open for any sort of sign.
So I get the massive internet searches. And who knows? Maybe landing here on my blog is all kinds of meant to be–and I don’t want to disappoint.
In fact I love to make people smile, so I went on a search of all the things Google listed that people were looking for here (but couldn’t find).
Is that Liam’s mole/freckle?
Are these the lovely teeth you were looking for?
And the shoes only Liam could fill?
Oh and is this the hat you were looking for???
Nowadays I might see signs of love a little differently (like bringing me a cup of tea or washing the dishes), but my favorite part of looking for a sign?
Being open to hope.
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.
When it comes to love, have you ever looked for signs?
I’m excited to bring you another Reader Paparazzi interview. Thanks so much for all your comments and suggestions on my first installment. If you missed it, check it out here.
Basically since I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens and tweens–writing and reading, I decided it might be nice to get a little perspective from the real world.
So I’m stalking interviewing young adult readers.
And this week I have what the publishing industry refers to as the reluctant (boy) reader.
But you can call him Ben.
Ben is a twelve-year-old middle schooler. He is on the Lacrosse team, plays the trombone in his school’s All City Band and he has the distinction of being the only kid I know who prefers dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Plus, as you will soon see, he loves skateboarding.
What is the last book you read?
Probably one of the Magic Tree House Series. I don’t read a lot for fun, but I do have all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books!
What are the top three songs playing on your iPod?
Skrillex: The First of the Year
Skrillex: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Kanye West: Dark Fantasy
What is your favorite class in school?
What is your favorite thing to do after school?
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life—what would it be?
That’s hard! I guess Chicken & Rice Soup.
If you could Skype with a famous person who would you pick?
(P-Rod,his nickname, is a professional skateboarder. I’m glad Ben filled me in on this fact, because the only Paul Rodriguez I know is a comedian–and turns out, happens to also be P-Rod’s father).
See how much you can learn in an interview?
So Ben, what was the last movie you saw?
Hunger Games! And I loved it.
Me too! What are you most looking forward to right now?
Sunday Skate Sessions at the skate park.
Ben lifting off the ground with an “ollie”.
While we’re on the subject of skateboarding, what did you think when you heard that a 12-year-old (Tom Schaar) landed skateboarding’s first ever 1080 spin?
Amazed! I thought it would be a pro!
So other than cool skateboarding tricks, what would you like to learn how to do?
Drive a Rally Car.
I have to say I’m feeling for your mom here a little Ben . . .
Okay one last question. If you could get on a plane right now and go anywhere—all expenses paid—where would you go?
Arigato Ben. 🙂
Check back for more Reader Paparazzi interviews–or if you don’t want to miss a post, simply subscribe by email (above on the sidebar)!
Have any questions you’d love for me to ask young readers? Drop me a comment, I’d love to know! Or answer me this question:
If you could get on a plane right now and go anywhere—all expenses paid—where would you go?
According to my first diary, this Saturday is Rob Lowe’s birthday.
Apparently on March 17, 1984, I had a lunch of lamb stew and then spent an afternoon flying a kite and swapping scratch and sniff stickers with my sister. Then later I got together with Rob.
Um, via collage.
When it came to crushes and boys I put a lot of emphasis on luck and wishing and okay occasionally praying to certain patron saints in the name of love. I probably would’ve spent my entire St. Patrick’s Day in a clover patch waiting for the Great Four Leaf Clover to arrive if I thought it would help my case.
Yes, St. Patrick’s Day was extra special and extra lucky. It was the one day a year that I owned my freckles and my complete inability to tan. But when I was a young teenager it offered me something even more powerful.
Okay so maybe my diary entries portray me as kind of clueless (and dork-tastic, check out this post if you’re not quite sure), but there’s something to be said for a little positive thinking.
Because gluing your picture alongside your crush (or combing a clover patch) leaves you open for opportunity.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Like on March 17, 1990.
Preparation: I curled my hair and put on something green.
Opportunity: A frat house St. Patrick’s Day party.