Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Very Special HUGE Announcement!



Dear Honest Readers,

Lorie and Carey here!

The day has finally come when we can share our dream-come-true news with you all!!!! We are bursting to spill the details, but first, if you’ll indulge her, Lorie would like to go back to the beginning. The very beginning... 

Once upon a time, when I was sixteen years old, my great-uncle took me to see my very first Broadway-style production—Brigadoon! As the curtain lifted, I was swept away to a world of magic, beauty and gorgeous boys in kilts. It would be easy to say I fell head over heels in love with the story, but one issue bothered me for the next twenty years: The portal to Brigadoon opened once every hundred years and when the portal closed, all its inhabitants…slept. Really? What a dull existence in an otherwise enchanting kingdom! One cold winter day, I was discussing this gap between childhood expectations and reality with Carey—critique partner extraordinaire and diehard theater aficionado—and we decide to create the story the way we wished it had been; thus DOON, a reimagining of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the Lerner and Loewe estates, was born. 

 DOON…

A mysterious letter and a set of magical rings lead two best friends to an enchanted bridge and a thriving land existing outside of time and place. The Scottish Kingdom of Doon is quite possibly the answer to everything missing in the girls’ lives—excitement, a sense of belonging, purpose and love—including two handsome princes. However when a vengeful witch bent on destruction threatens Doon’s very existence, the girls must find a way to save the kingdom and its people before they disappear forever into the mists.
~Destiny awaits!

We are humbled and thrilled beyond words to announce that all four books of the DOON series will be published by Zondervan/Harper Collins in hardcover, the first to release in September 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are grateful for the privilege to be able to celebrate first with all of you here at Honestly YA. Thank you for sharing in our miraculous journey! 

Hugs,
Carey and Lorie






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Monday, December 17, 2012

A Citrus Kind of Christmas

In light of recent events, I've been trying to embrace the present and celebrate the small moments in life.

This weekend, I went shopping for a live Christmas tree for the very first time.



We made some interesting discoveries along the way. Did you know, for example, that when you break the pine needles of a Douglas Fir, they smell like citrus?

We also learned that our Christmas tree is fifteen years old.




After we got home and set up the tree, I unpacked the ornaments and gave them to my kids to hang.

A little while later, I looked up and saw this:



"Where are all the ornaments?" I asked.

Turned out, my kids had hung the bulk of them on a corner of the tree facing the wall. This was their special hide-out, they explained. In order to get back there, I had to squeeze through a space that was perfect for a child. Not so comfortable for an adult.

But it was worth it. The view was magnificent.




So magnificent, in fact, I'm going to leave the ornaments where they are. After all, it is the small things -- the secret hideouts, the pretty ornaments, the citrus Christmas tree -- that matter in life.

What about you, dear reader? What small moments have you been celebrating this holiday season?

Happy Holidays!

-- Pintip

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Year's Eve: A resolution revolution!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year… NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS TIME!

I’m very excited to be joining the wonderful team here at Honestly YA, even if this first post will probably seem hopelessly, well, starry-eyed. But with most of my Christmas shopping completed, some of my gifts even given, I can now turn to the true “reason for the season” (for me): preparing for the New Year.

It’s true. New Year’s Eve has long been one of my favorite holidays, if not my most favorite. And not because of the partying and celebration. I am party-challenged, actually—I’m one of those people who gets completely drained standing in a room talking to perfectly delightful friends and acquaintances. I’m the girl who insists on driving herself to every get together, just so that I have getaway wheels. I’m the girl who looks at going to crowded concerts like an exercise in self-discipline (“I will not leave early, I will not leave early, I will not leave early.”)

But there’s something about New Year’s Eve that’s always captured my imagination. It’s the time of blue and white starlight, of saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new, of brushing away all of the clutter and trouble of the past and boldly stepping into the future. There have been some years that I haven’t even put up a tree until after Christmas—and then it was decorated specifically for New Year’s Eve. (It should be noted, I do NOT have children.  I don’t think I could pull that off with a family gathered round!) My ornaments sometimes are sparkling lights and bulbs—and sometimes small wisps of papers with wishes and dreams written on them. New Year’s Eve is about everything the glimmers – hopes, dreams, stars, the future, renewal and possibilities.

Over the years, I’ve attempted my share of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve tried the diet (that… worked well), giving up red wine (see diet, above) and being a better person (almost impossible if you're also dieting and giving up wine, in case anyone's wondering). But I’ve learned that for me, New Year’s isn’t about what I need to cut out of my life, it’s about what positive things I can add to my life—the new goals, dreams, and possibilities that I am willing to open myself to, at the bright shiny start of a New Year.

So what are my New Year’s "Resolutions" for 2013?

1. Write Full Time

I am lucky enough to be a debut author in 2013, with my historical YA novel, MAID OF SECRETS, coming out in May. (Go, Meg!) But one sale alone does not a full-time author make. I’m also a freelancer who is blessed with as much work as I can handle (and, apparently, I can handle a lot). In 2013, I make the shift to writing full time.

2. Become a Better Author

If I’ve learned nothing else this past year, it’s that I have so much more to learn about writing—the craft, marketing, managing time, all of it. In order to succeed in this venture, I have to become savvier about how I spend my time… and how I choose to improve. This means that in 2013, I read more good books, watch more good movies, and write more good stories.

3. Dream Bigger

Like many women and girls who were successful early in a world that wasn’t always supportive of that accomplishment, I learned to be quiet about my dreams and goals, to not shout them from the rooftops or dance with them around a crowded room. Along the way, I gradually became quiet about my goals on the inside as well, until they became barely a whisper in my own heart. Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve learned that I can shine forth through my actions, and proclaim my goals fiercely even if I never say a word. In 2013, I dream without boundaries, and remember to live those dreams every day.

4. Love more

Love is one of those unique gems—the more you share it, the more brilliantly it glows. So much of the “have tos” and “musts” in life come down to just trying to love others a tiny bit more, or even to love myself more. Everyone can use a touch more caring, it seems, particularly in today’s stressful world. So in 2013, I love a little more—and express that love in creative and meaningful ways.

Well, that’s me—but what about you?? Do you love New Year’s Eve or is it your most hated holiday… or does it fall somewhere in between? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions that you’d like to share?

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's a Doomsday Christmas!


Usually at the beginning of December, I’m watching all those sappy Christmas movies that make my heart flutter and break and feel all happy inside simultaneously.

Not this year.  I’ve become addicted to the Doomsday shows on National Geographic.  I just found out the other day about the Mayan calendar ending on December 21, 2012, and many people believe that will be the end of the word.  Apparently, I’m the last to know.
 
I called my mom because I wanted to let her know about my significant discovery only to find out she’s been going to “prepper” meetings to make sure she’ll survive in her little town in Ohio.  Granted, people have called my mom “Doom and Gloom” for years.  She freaked out when I didn’t get ready for Y2K.  My husband and I bought some extra wine and hoped for the best here in Virginia.   I think my mom still has Dinty Moore beef stew left over from 2000.

Doom and Gloom told me about this other show called “Doomsday Preppers” where families are building bunkers and teaching their young children about survival techniques and how to siphon gas from other people’s cars if the need arises.

I only had one pen-sized flashlight for the recent hurricane that rocked our area.  At the last minute I filled up a bathtub with water in case we lost electricity and couldn’t get water, and I scrambled to find some candles.  That’s about as prepared as I get for a disaster.

Imagine my husband’s surprise when I told him that I bought survival items for Christmas gifts this year.  My boys are getting headlamps.  The girls are getting reusable handwarmers.   My husband is getting a crank radio and flashlight combo.  I bought other stuff too, but I’m too embarrassed to admit to the rest.  But, respiratory masks and Mylar blankets wouldn’t be out of the running.  Or fire starters and emergency tents. 
  
So, this got me thinking about YA books and the dystopian stuff that kids eat up these days.  I wonder if there’s a connection between adult paranoia and what teens are reading today.  Are we making our kids crazy?  Do they read these apocalypse and zombie books because they want to escape to a world that’s complete fantasy or because they’re trying to become preppers through osmosis? 

My kids have read many of these dystopian and apocalypse books, and I know for sure that they wouldn’t have a clue how to make it out there in a disastrous situation.  If they need to straighten their hair with a flat iron to avoid the zombies, they’re good. Fire a gun?  Not so much.  Figure out how to hunt game like Katniss?  Nope.  We’d starve. 
 
We put our tree up today, and tomorrow we string up the lights and hang the ornaments and deck the halls.  I still have my Christmas music on in the kitchen while I’m googling survival items on my computer.  I’ll still be baking my favorite cookies while waiting for the UPS man to deliver my water purification tablets and portable stove. 

Then I start to wonder…am I becoming my mother?!?  There’s a part of me that’s horrified at that idea and another part of me that’s kinda proud to be following in her crazy footsteps. 

I have purchased other fun gifts like sleds and games in the event that Christmas does actually arrive this December 25th.  My kids are downstairs dancing and laughing, and they have no clue that their mother is upstairs writing a blog about a Doomsday Christmas.

They can be kept in the dark.  If the time comes when I have to bring out the crank flashlight, I’ll clue them in.  Otherwise, it will be another Merry, Merry Christmas in our home. 
Just like next year’s.             
I’m hoping…

Kimberly MacCarron

Are you preparing for Christmas or for the end of the world as we know it?  Tell me I'm not the only crazy one who's prepping for both!

Monday, November 26, 2012

When There's No Fun in Dysfunctional

The holiday season is upon us. And since it's my turn at bat here at Honestly YA, I'm thinking of Christmases of yore. 'Cause nothing saying holiday cheer like a walk down good ole Dysfunctional Family Lane.
Oops, was that out loud? 

I know, everyone's supposed to be happy during the holiday, skipping around singing Christmas songs, hauling out the holly, lighting candles in the window, and playing carols on the spinet. 

Well what if the most wonderful time of year...isn't? What if it's just another day, albeit one with festively wrapped gifts, that ends with you shaking your head wondering why the f*@k your family members can't just get along?

Sound familiar? If so, my condolences. We're fellow veterans of Holiday Hell. If not, I'm envious because evidently Hallmark Christmas specials really do come true.

You see, my family wasn't one of those cute, semi-dysfunctional ones where Dad's goofy and embarrassing, mom's dotting yet exasperated, and the kids are wretched but adorable, a al A Christmas Story. 
Nope, it was a lot more like The Ref. Especially the beginning and middle sections where everyone's yelling at each other and hurling insults.  

In fact, it wasn't Christmas if my mother didn't bellow, "Merry Christmas, family!" at some point during the day. Except she didn't say it like you'd imagine Santa Claus would, with his arms outstretched and a twinkle in his eye. No, her annual salutation was uttered in a gravely tone, dripping with disappointment and disgust. 

So what's the point of this sorry reminiscence? To offer a little glimmer of hope to others who experience the same kind of holiday madness. As a teen and young adult, I often wondered if my family craziness was normal, and if true happiness was just a marketing gimmick, painfully out of reach.  

I'm here to tell you it's not. I grew up and out of my past to build a happy and loving family with my husband. Our children are joyful, kind and sensitive, and genuinely enjoy each other's company. And the friends we've brought into our lives have become our true family who'd never pick a fight at a holiday dinner.

So if your family is as insane as my nuclear family was, hang on. You too will grow up and out of the insanity to create your own Hallmark Christmas special.

Happy holidays! 

~Lea




Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Make a Traditional Holiday

When I look back on my childhood, there are three holiday traditions I recall vividly:

Thanksgiving: the day before, polish every single stinking piece of silver.

Christmas: the day before, scrub the bathrooms

New Year's: stay up until 12:10 if - and only if - you're very quiet.

As delightful as these traditions are, I wanted to create new and different traditions in my *cough* adult *cough* years. And I tried. I really tried hard. 

Here are some traditions that have developed in my household over the years...


Thanksgiving means orange juice and bacon are in the house at the same time! Except they're not for breakfast. They're for cooking sweet potatoes and turkey respectively. (I never said my traditions were normal, did I?)




Dinner is not complete without the traditional Thanksgiving flames, hence the festive, holiday-red fire extinguisher. Next year I may add glitter. (Totally not kidding. About the flames, that is. The glitter, probably.)


Not a tradition. (Seriously. Could you imagine the size of the fire extinguisher I would need?) 


My go-to gift for the Toys for Tots campaign. Still on the lookout for a good "boy" gift.



The Christmas season officially kicks of with the annual scavenger hunt for exterior light hooks. They need to be the right shape for the gutters and, more importantly, need to be durable enough to keep the lights in place until the week before Easter, when we traditionally get around to taking the lights down.



On Christmas Eve, we all call "beetlejuice" three times and sing "The Banana Boat Song" around the table. Day-O!
Totally kidding.
This is the opening few seconds of steaming King Crab legs. We're already getting our appetites on.




 Is any holiday complete without the humiliating pet photo? I'm thinking... no.


Okay, so the point is, not all holiday traditions are sugar-cookie warm and candy-cane sweet. Sometimes they're just plain fun or silly. Got any of those in your holiday? Tell us about them!

~Jen

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Not So Silent Night


Dear lovely readers, Lorie here. As much as I hate to be a downer, today I want to share a holiday experience that was not so merry, but very close to my heart. So, grab a warm beverage of your choice and keep the tissues handy.

There are times when our most treasured holiday traditions are derailed. When customs we hold sacred get blown out of the water by tragedy, never to be the same again.

Since my earliest memories, my family would head to church on Christmas Eve for a candlelight service. After the pastor told the magical story of the baby in the manger, the angels trumpeting His arrival into our world, a reverent hush would fall over the congregation in anticipation of the climax of the evening. Gradually, all the lights in the sanctuary were extinguished, giving way to an all-encompassing darkness. 

In those long seconds of blackness, I would blink into nothingness, a bubble of panic forming in my chest. Then, a single flame drew my eye as the pastor spoke of the Christ child as the Light of the world, and a simple melody began to play into the quiet.

As I joined in singing the familiar words, the ushers lit their candles from the single flame and moved through the crowd, each of our little candles glowing as the light was passed from person to person, pew after pew, until the sanctuary shone like daylight.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace…


Even as a child, my heart would swell as we neared the end of the familiar hymn and I raised my candle above my head, symbolizing the light that burned inside each one of us.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth…

When I was eighteen, I came home from college for winter break and, as was our custom, my family attended the candlelight Christmas Eve service. It was moving and beautiful, as always. But what I didn’t know, is it would be the last one I would enjoy for many years to come.

Five days after Christmas, my cousin Robbie passed away in a tragic accident. He was two years younger than me, but we were so close we would lie and tell people we were brother and sister. He was one of my best friends.

As I stood at his funeral, trembling with the effort to keep myself from screaming, a familiar song began to play. Disembodied voices floated down from the choir loft, and the deranged words of my favorite carol filled the church.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Rob, sleep in heavenly peace
Rob, sleep in heavenly peace…          

Like a nightmare, the song seemed to go on forever, repeating the same verse, until the ruined lyrics became branded on my brain. Even through my grief, a deep anger resonated in my soul. How dare they defile this sacred hymn? Did it honor Rob’s memory to compare him to the Son of God? Somehow, I didn’t think so.

For years after, I couldn’t hear Silent Night without experiencing a fresh wave of grief. And on Christmas Eve, instead of raising my candle in reverence, I raised it in mourning, tears streaming down my face.

As an adult, I’ve continued the tradition of candlelight Christmas Eve service with my family, and through my children’s eyes, I’ve made peace with this song. A combination of time and faith now overrides my grief, and raising my candle and singing Silent Night is once again a highlight of my yearly celebration—part reverent worship and part memorial to the boy we lost. 

How about you, dear reader? Have any of your holiday traditions crashed and burned over the years? How were you able to salvage them over time?

Lorie

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ten reasons I ♥ Adam Levine



Ten reasons I Adam Levine

He’s sexy and kind, crazy talented and badass—and that’s just the exterior. There so much more to shining star Adam Levine and he’s not afraid to let the world see his light.


My children and I are addicted to the show The Voice for a number of reasons. The talent is ridiculously good. The coaches are among the most nurturing celebrities on the face of the planet, not to mention host Carson Daly rooting for each singer like they were his own flesh and blood. The Voice is not merely an affirmation to musical hopefuls, but serves as a balm of encouragement to anyone who’s ever struggled in pursuit of their personal dream. Any of these reasons would be enough in itself to watch the artistic love-fest that is The Voice. But as I invest in the show’s third season, one aspect moves me more than all of the others combined—Adam Levine.

I LOVE Adam!

Wait—before his people file for a restraining order, I don’t mean I’m crushing on him or want to stalk him (I’m supremely happily married and far too exhausted with writing novels and my corporate job to stalk).

 

I don’t mean I Adam or I admire Adam. What I mean to say is I LOVE—so much that I would give him my kidney, LOVE—Adam. Here’s why: 

 

Adam Levine…


    1.   Is Cool –Whether listening intensely or bromancing fellow coach Blake, with his trademark t-shits and tats, his badassery is effortless. It’s wonderful to see a celebrity comfortable in their own skin.
    2.   Is Genuine – I want to audition for The Voice and not get picked just so I can get a hug from Adam on the way out the door. No air kisses or limp pats on the back from Adam Levine, he honestly cares for the people that cross his path and is adorably demonstrative. How can you not admire a guy who’s so fearless when it comes to hugging?
    3.   Is Positive – Like all The Voice coaches, he’s a natural encourager. But if you follow his tweets, you get a glimpse into his infectious enthusiasm. He’s a born cheerleader—but in a testosterone-y, badass way.
    4.   Is A Role Model – As I said before, I watch The Voice with my kids. They both adore Adam. My nine-year-old daughter feels a particular connection to him because he has ADHD. That she shares the same diagnosis and faces similar challenges as Adam makes her feel special. To see Adam’s accomplishments gives her hope that she, too, can conquer the world and fulfill her own unique dreams. Adam has influenced my eleven-year-old son in a different way. My son has been a HUGE Maroon 5 fan for a while. But in watching The Voice, he’s gotten a glimpse of the man behind the microphone. Thanks to Adam, it’s cool to be a sincerely nice guy. Often when we watch The Voice my son remarks on how “nice” Adam is or how he hopes he “can be like that” when he grows up—he aspires to be like Adam. Personally, I can’t think of a better celebrity to emulate.

    5.   Takes a Stand – In addition to being unashamedly vocal about his ADHD, he’s also dropped his drawers in the name of prostate cancer awareness. Adam has a history of engaging in causes with passionate abandon. Recently, he participated in a bit of impromptu Hurricane Sandy relief. After passing a local Red Cross blood drive, he stood on a street corner with a handwritten sign encouraging locals to get involved by texting the well-known Samaritan organization.
    What? Adam wants me to donate blood…sign me up!(And put me down for a kidney while you're at it.)
    6.   Is Über-Talented – Most of the world knows him as the lead singer of Maroon 5 and the serial-hugging coach on The Voice, but his talent, like his enthusiasm for life, is boundless. I love his collaborations and the new M5 album Overexposed, but I think I appreciate his talent even more when he’s stepping outside of his box to belt If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys), or crooning Sinatra’s iconic The Way you Look Tonight. Right now, my absolute favorite song of his is the soulful Come Away to the Water (Hunger Games Soundtrack). It’s inspired! And I hope he sings it when I take my son to see M5 this February.
    7.   Has Range – In addition to being a rock god, Adam can add actor to his energetic artistic portfolio. Yes, I know he's been acting in videos forever. And he's always amazing. Have you seen the latest video, One More Night? Did any of you catch his acting debut on American Horror Story: Asylum? So ok—his cameo on AHS put my strict “no stalking” policy in serious jeopardy. He was thoroughly convincing as a horny, honeymooning horror-enthusiast. And even with his arm ripped off he was still scorchin’ hot! (Okay, so maybe I Adam a tiny bit.)
    8.   Is Open – Adam Levine has an accessibility that is rare among celebrities and I’m not just talking about the way he generously interacts with M5 fans. (Example: #Daylightproject) He has an emotional openness that is deeply moving to witness. In this season of The Voice, when De’borah first talked about being an outcast, Adam’s heart broke not just for her but for anyone who’s ever felt devalued. How do I know, because he let all of America see —at least the part that was watching. As an author, I’m mesmerized by vulnerabilities. Adam wears his emotions on his sleeve; he cusses like a sailor, and he seems to get naked a lot.
He’s got a bit of a rebellious streak. In last year’s feud with MTV he tweeted: i may be a pop singer. but every once in a while the angsty teenager in me just blurts out some raw honesty.  it's a reflex. (As a writer who channels her angsty teenager onto the page, I can relate!) Adam Levine is flawed, but that makes him real. He’s 100% relatable—well, except for the whole obscenely rich, playing for hundreds of thousands of people, dating supermodels thing. That’s what’s so cool about him…by the world’s standards he should be a total d*%!, but he’s not. Nor does he have an overreaching sense of entitlement. He’s down to earth.
    9.  Inspires – Whether is advocating a cause, generously mentoring on The Voice,  serial-hugging those at the crossroads of their dreams, or inspiring children to make the world a better place, Adam Levine’s spontaneity, passion and joy are infectious.

    10. Is AWESOME! Google Adam and you’ll find references to “The Perfect Man” ad nauseum. Many celebrities are touted as “perfect.” Many are cool, or talented, or passionate about their causes. Many celebrities manage to look scorchin’ hot with one arm ripped from the socket. But few people, celebrities or otherwise, have such a transparent code of ethics intrinsic to their human DNA. With all due respect to Adam’s abs, talent and badassery, I see him as something altogether different. And while far from perfect, it’s compellingly real. He’s an awesome human being. The kind of person who touches the world around him and changes it for the better. The kind of man who cares deeply and should be emulated. A true artist with a big talent and an even bigger heart. 
 
And when put that way, maybe I do Adam. Maybe I him a whole helluva lot!!!
 
Your Turn: If you’re an ALLAdam Levine Lover—chime in. If not, which celebrity do you think is worth emulating and why?



Carey




Carey Corp is the author of DOON, Brigadoon reimagined, co-written w/Lorie Langdon. Book 1 coming 8/20/13 from the new YA imprint BLINK (a division of Zondervan/HarperCollins).  

 Join the DOON journey: www.doonseries.com