Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Agent Joanna Volpe, president of New Leaf Media

Typically here at Honestly YA, when we're introducing a literary agent, we put a brief bio at the start of the blog to give you an idea whom you're about to "meet". So, I searched the internet for a bio but there was a whole lotta "business" bio out there. You can get all that information on your own. Here are some equally important facts that you won't find in the official bio:

1. she loves dogs

2. she can put together seemingly random articles of clothing no one else would dream of pairing and come out looking adorable (wait, are we supposed to hate her for that? hmmm)

3. she believes ice cream and french fries are a perfectly acceptable combination of snackage

and most impressively:

4. when her internet service failed and she could not email responses to our interview questions, she agreed to do the interview via twitter. I kid you not. twitter.

Does that not win the Agent of Awesome Award or what?

So now, without further babble from moi, I'm happy to present to you today Joanna Volpe. And bear in mind, Joanna sent these answers in 140 character bursts.

1. What book spoke to you most during your teen years?

Wow, I am going to go 2 ways with this: 1) I finally understood the true meaning of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book even now. It really affected me. My parents are such giving and generous people. I think that's the first time I realized what they had given me all my life. And 2) Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield was the first narrator that I felt really spoke to ME. I'm such a cliche, but it's true Oh! I would like to add a third part to this question, 3) Salem's Lot. This book terrified me (and still does)! But man, did I love to watch that town unravel from the inside out. In my teen years I was starting to really understand that not everyone was genuine. Stephen King is a genius at showing the many layers of people, and Salem's Lot came to represent a universal truth for me: there is more to a person than meets the eye. Horror is also one of my favorite genres to this day. I love being scared! Phew! Long answer!

2. Do you have a book (or books) that you reread regularly? If yes, what book and why? 

The Giving Tree again--I tear up every time. Also Harry Potter and The Hobbit.

3. What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you most want all your friends to read?

Good question! Obviously all of my clients' books--I've read them each 3-5 times or more. They are so good! But if we're talking non-clients, I would say The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I have recommended both many, many times.

4. How have those earlier book-loving years impacted your career from bookseller to agent? 

Well, I still have a soft spot for dark stories and horror. No matter what genre. I blame Stephen King. 100%

5. You are the agent behind some YA favorites: DIVERGENT, THE DUFF, and SHADOW AND BONE. What stood out to you when you read the authors’ initial pages? What grabbed you and made you think: yes, THIS?

Voice! Holy wow, Bianca, Tris and Alina are amazing! And they feel REAL. They mess up sometimes, and that's OK. I don't typically fall for a perfect MC. I like my characters battling, both in plot and within. Mo Fitzgerald in Erica O'rourke's TORN series, Elvie Nara in MOTHERSHIP and Eleanor Fitt in SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY all awesome, all flawed, and all *fantastic* heroines. I highly suggest these books!

7. In the same vein, there have to be any number of things that make you think: no way. What’s currently on your "I hope I never see another____" list? 

Passive characters. Or total G.I. Joes.

6. Just last week, you announced the establishment of your own agency, New Leaf Literary & Media. What are you most looking forward to about being out on your own? 

Having the freedom to try new things. Of course, I would never dive into something without a lot of research. There is so much changing in publishing (um, the whole world really). I am actually excited to be a part of this. May we live in interesting times, eh?

8. Anything else you'd like to share with our readers or writers? 

Don't be frightened by the "changing market" or changing mediums and platforms. Change is a good thing, and there will always be a story to tell and someone who wants to help you tell it.

Can you give us a little taste of what your plan is for New Leaf Media? 

At New Leaf Literary & Media we support our authors beyond those stories. We are working with these big industry changes so our clients can focus on their craft as much as possible. There are a lot of demands put on authors today. We won't let our clients go it alone.

See? What did I tell you? Awesome, right? In 140 character bursts!
Thank you SO MUCH Joanna for taking the time for this interview and for giving us such fabulous answers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I have a copy of The Sky Is Everywhere around here somewhere....


Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching Mrs. Wara

When I heard our topic this rotation would be Hot for Teacher, I immediately knew I wanted to talk about Mrs. Wara. (Not like that! Elevate your minds for a sec and try to keep up with the class.)
My senior year in high school, I was perfectly content to coast into graduation. I took classes like peer counseling, drama, choir, and unscheduled (yep, it’s a real thing). I signed up for any extracurricular activity that involved a field trip. I apparently was on the Academic Team, which I have no recollection of but a friend insists is true. And I often missed classes due to *fake cough* illness or the burning need to go back to bed. To say I was a slacker is like saying the sun’s kinda warm.

Then came Senior Economics, my first class with Mrs. Wara.

As I already stated, I was dedicated to blowing off the year, so the details of our first encounter are a bit fuzzy. But in my mind, it went something like this.
Me: (Walking into Senior Econ) La la la. I feel some cramps coming on. I wonder if I can get Becky’s mom to pick me then I can go home and reread Les Misérables. “Hi Mrs. Wara. I’m Carey Blackmon. It is so wonderful to meet you. My, that is a lovely sweater set you’re wearing.”

Mrs. W: “I know who you are Blackmon. You are a slacker. You don’t have what it takes to pass my class. You are going to fail and then I am going to enjoy giving you the grade you deserve. (insert evil laugh as she wipes the drool from her snout) I eat kids like you for breakfast.” *end scene*

Did I mention that in my version, she always looks like The Teacher from the Black Lagoon?

BTW - This is a great series!
I was outraged! How dare Mrs. Wara judge, and thereby limit, my potential? Who did she think she was? More importantly, who did she think I was? I’d show her!!! So I made it my semester goal to teach my teacher a lesson. My need for vindication drove me to apply myself with ninja-like devotion. No other time in my years of public education, did I work so hard, or attend so regularly.

Out of Mrs. Wara’s numerous Econ classes that semester, I got the third highest grade. And my A+ + + + + + + felt like sweet revenge. But to my surprise, Mrs. Wara seemed to genuinely enjoy giving me the grade I deserved—the grade I had earned.

To this day, I take pride in that accomplishment above all other k-12 academic achievements. For years, I also took pride in proving Mrs. Wara wrong. But as I matured, I began to see it a bit differently. Maybe her nefarious plan was never about me proving anything to her, but proving something to myself. And  boy, did she read me like a dime store novel.

If Mrs. Wara had approached me with an inspiring speech about living up to my potential, I would’ve dismissed her. If she’d flat out told me I needed to try harder, I’d have done less. But her shrewd reverse psychology motivated me to push myself to a new level.

So thank you, Mrs. Wara, for motivating me in the best way possible and for teaching me a lesson that continues to inspire me to new feats of professional accomplishment! I am grateful.

YOUR TURN: Take a moment to honor a teacher who taught you a life lesson.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WELCOME WEDNESDAY: Huntley Fitzpatrick is Hot for a Caring Teacher

I'm thrilled to welcome YA author Huntley Fitzpatrick to this week's Welcome Wednesday spot. Huntley's debut novel, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is hot off the presses from Penguin - Dial for Young Readers. And one of you lucky duck commenters is going to win a copy! But before we get to all that, Huntley's got to share her Hot for Teacher moment. Take it away, Huntley...

I was amazingly lucky to have a high school I adored. One of my best memories of it is Ron Richardson, sitting at Chapel, smiling behind his hand, eyebrows raised, or perched on his desk, waiting for a raised arm or a smart answer. Always encouraging, always expecting us to come up with our best.
He was dapper and debonair and had a style I recognized even back in the eighties, when I wore clothes I shudder to think of now. He was funny and pithy, had a way of making anything interesting, even the most painful grammar exercises. He was also gay and “out” in a calm way in a time when it was still a big deal, it was very much just sort of yeah, I have blue eyes, I’m gay, I teach French, let’s move on. What I loved the most about Mr. Richardson was his fine ear for kids who needed his help, his humor, his honesty, his care. He absolutely excelled at finding kids who needed someone to lean on and sticking by them. When I heard that he had died last year I felt as though I had lost a member of my family. I went to his memorial service  and realized how many lives he had touched, so gracefully and without making any big deal about it. I thought to myself that I should write about him, and then realized that without even realizing it, I already had: he was a major character in a book I’d written. I didn’t even consciously know I’d included him.
One of my favorite stories about him was told by a teacher who came to my boarding school from a less than privileged background. She was struggling, in her early days, with how very much kids at this school had, how they didn’t seem to appreciate it. He told her that despite the fact that the students might live in wealthy households with unimaginable luck, in the end they were still just teenagers struggling, kids who needed someone to care and listen.
Mr. Richardson never failed to do that.
You can learn more about about Huntley Fitzpatrick at her website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads. Here's a little more about MY LIFE NEXT DOOR:

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all,
was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them…until one summer evening Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own—even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Thanks so much, Huntley! It sounds like Mr. Richardson was a great guy. Just the kind of teacher teens need. So how about you, dear readers? Did you have a special teacher who was always there to care and listen? Tell us about him and her. 

As promised, one lucky commenter will be picked at random to win a copy of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR. Be sure to leave your name and email address so we can contact you. Contest ends on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 5 pm EST.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Got it Bad, Got it Bad, Got it Bad! I'm Hot for Teacher!

Happy Monday, everyone. Melissa here, and man-oh-man, am I excited to kick off our new topic: HOT FOR TEACHER! I think we’re all psyched about this rotation here at Honestly YA. Well, everyone but Jen, who attended an all-girls school staffed by nuns. Sorry, Jen. I’m sure you’ll think of something when it’s your turn to post. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! J

Now on with the show!

In a female-dominated field like education, it’s unusual to come across a male hottie, but this rare bird does exist. And if you’re anything like me, all learning comes to a screeching halt when that fine specimen walks into the room. You suck in your tummy, flash your pearly whites, and flip your hair. Maybe even thrust out those B-cups. Or ink a hidden message onto your eyelids, like this besotted gal:

Source: Indiana Jones Wiki

I think we all know that nobody can compete with the tantalizing Doctor Jones, but ladies, I give you a close second: the subject of my high school crush, guidance counselor extraordinaire, Mr. B! (Whose name I’ve withheld so y’all can’t stalk his fine arse.)

Oh, Mr. B, you smexy beast!

Trust me when I say this yearbook photo does him NO JUSTICE WHATSOEVER. Let me paint you a better picture: thick waves of ebony hair, electric-blue eyes, a delightfully-crooked smile, and most of all…a THICK SCOTTISH BROGUE! Yeah, that’s right, girls. He was Scottish, born and bred!  Maybe you didn’t hear me. MY GUIDANCE COUNCELOR WAS FROM SCOTLAND! Sa-woon!

You’re fanning your cheeks, aren’t you? It’s understandable.

I had a serious case of The Hots for Mr. B. I’m ashamed to tell you how many times I approached my math teacher and said, “Can I go see the counselor?” Sniffle, sniffle. Blink, blink. “I’m having personal problems.”

The sweet-but-gullible old guy would write me a pass, and I’d spend the next forty-five minutes making sh*t up so I could listen to Mr. B talk. Oh, I could listen to that velvet voice all day long and never tire of it.

::dreamy sigh::

Of course, Mr. B and I weren’t meant to be. He had an equally gorgeous Scottish wife, and I was only seventeen. But he certainly made an impact on me, and for that, I thank him!

Now it’s your turn! Who was your Hot-for-Teacher crush?

Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in 2013 from Disney-Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she'd love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Carey and Jen's latest release: ETERNAL SPRING

When fellow YA author and Golden Heart sister, Amanda Brice, first contacted us about contributing to this anthology, we nearly peed our pants!

This was an amazing project and we are so honored to be in the company of 11 other kick-ass YA authors. (Make sure you check out our collective bio at the bottom.) A HUGE THANKS to Amanda Brice and Tawny Stokes for organizing this epic undertaking!!!

ETERNAL SPRING: Flowers, vacation, baseball, prom...what does spring mean to you? From unicorn hunters and teenage exorcists to Egyptian princesses and aspiring ballerinas, this collection of thirteen stories by some of the most exciting authors in Young Adult fiction explores young love and new beginnings during the most beautiful time of the year. *Did I mention the digital version is FREE?*

We thought you would like to know a bit about our individual stories...

CAREY: I love short stories. For me, they are a way to experiment and challenge myself to write in ways I've never written before. "The Vanishing Spring" draws inspiration from three of my favorite things in life: The Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick. I also knew I wanted to write a 3rd person, boy point of view and an ethnic character. My husband's extended family is Mexican-American, so I modeled Ty Diaz, and his vibrant heritage, after them.

For the setting, I decided to cyber-explore Chicago. I wanted to juxtapose strong Latino culture against white-bread wealth. La Villita/Little Village and the North Shore suburb of Wilmette made perfect contrasts. As I researched Wilmette's history, I began to picture Ellie Quimby and what her like might have been like in 1872. Once I had the main characters and setting, my eerie romance practically wrote itself. (Cue Twilight Zone music: Doo-doo-DOO-doo! Doo-doo-DOO-doo!)

JEN:  I hadn't attempted a short story in years! But when the opportunity to participate in this anthology came along, there was no way I could pass it up (see, "peed our pants," above *ggl*). Still...dilemma. I already had a full, novel-length story in the works. How could I take time away from that? And what could I possibly write that had a springtime theme?

Ahhh! Of course. Multi-task and draw from my own personal history. The novel I was working on begins in Paris; the downloads folder on my laptop was overflowing with images of the City of Lights. And had I not spent springtime in Paris during a high school trip? Did I not spend an evening wandering Montmartre on my own, shopping for trinkets and chowing on crepe? Setting the short story in Paris was a no-brainer. And once I had the setting, and a concept of friends trying to voila! A story was hatched! 

Read about Jen's swoon-worthy hero Bowie here.

ETERNAL SPRING authors' bio:

Collectively, the thirteen authors in Eternal Spring have published over 90 books, and have received or have been nominated for several prestigious awards, including the RITA, the Golden Heart, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, the Jasmine, the Maggie, PASIC's Book of Your Heart contest, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the Cybil Award for Best Young Adult Fiction, the EPIC e-book Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age list. 

"The Vanishing Spring" by Carey Corp

More than a century earlier, Eleanor Quimby tumbled into the water to escape an arranged marriage and disappeared. But was that the tragic end or a brave new beginning?

"1:30, Tour Eiffel" by Jennifer McAndrews

A kiss in the dark will ruin Spring Break and lifelong friendships unless Rachel Healey can prove she is a pawn in someone else's game. 

Download ETERNAL SPRING for FREE: Amazon    Smashwords (all digital formats)
coming soon to B&N for NOOK and iTunes (we hope)...

YOUR TURN: We want to know what signifies spring to you? Leave a comment for a chance to win digital copies of Jen's BRAVING THE TITANIC and Carey's THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Made You a Mix Tape

Remember the mix tape? A customized compilation of songs that conveinently crystalizes thoughts and feelings onto magneti tape? Nowadays the cool kids make up playlists for their iPods and blogs, but they're basically the same thing. 
In the movie High Fidelity, Rob Gordon is the king of the mix tape. He and his employees spend their days compiling top five song lists to cover every conveivable occasion and emotion.
 “Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”
He's so right, isn't he? As cheesy as these things can be, the blend of music and lyrics can create a powerful emotion missive that either melts a girl's heart or cajoles her into reconsidering a break up.

I think this is one of the reasons teens create mix tapes or playlists. They're vulnerable and often overwhelmed by their feelings. It's so much easier to use a song as a proxy for sentiment then to actually say the words out loud. 
In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Nick makes break-up CDs for his ex-girlfriend, Tris. She hates them so much she dumps them in the trash, but Norah finds them and seeks him out. Even our beloved Lloyd Dobler created a "cool English road tape" for Diane in a deleted scene from Say Anything.

Once, when I was a senior, I crushed a guy's heart. He sent me a plaintive letter with lyrics from Richard Marx's song, Should've Known Better. Here's the chorus:
Should've known better
Than to fall in love with you
Now love is just a faded memory
Should've known better
Now I'm a prisoner to this pain
And my heart still aches for you
Oh man, I read that today and my heart hurts that I did that to someone. But back then, all I can remember thinking as I read that letter was, Richard Marx? Really? Couldn't he have found something better than an up-tempo, top-forty ballad to expression his heart break? 

Yeah, for the record I do know how cold that sounds.

Another time, when I was a high school freshman, my "boyfriend*, a senior in the drama club, broke up with me after we'd gone to a dance and made out during the slow songs in a very conspicuous fashion. Now, what the whole school knew, and apparently he did too, was that he was gay. But I didn't. Or at least I wasn't sure. I didn't care though, because he was a senior and I was a lowly freshman and he'd asked me to the dance. And we were friends.

So when he sent me a break up letter the next week and gave me a recording of the Wham! song, Careless Whisper, I didn't understand what the heck he was trying to say. 
I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor...
I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool
That song goes on and on. In hindsight, and knowing his sexual orientation and the struggles he must have gone through in our little provincial town, I can see what he was trying to say. He dated me, and fucked my face publicly, to somehow prove to the school that he was straight. But he felt bad about pretending to be something he wasn't, and for using me to do it. As a naive fourteen year old, I didn't get any of that. All I saw was the reference to the "guilty feet" and thought he was accusing me of doing something wrong. 

I didn't meet my true musical soul mate until I was nineteen. After Patrick and I dated about a month I got the most awesome mix tape in the mail. It had music from Simon and Garfunkel, Paul McCartney and Wings, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Crosby Stills and Nash, America, plus some great old big band stuff. I played that tape about a thousand times, nearly driving my roommate mad. The words and music spoke to me like none other. I knew he@d selected each one of those tunes for me. They were someone else's poetry, but they expressed his love. I still have the tape. In August we'll celebrate our twenteth wedding anniversay. 


You can learn more about Lea Nolan at her website, on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. Her debut novel, CONJURE, is the first book in The Hoodoo Apprentice series. It will be released in mass market paperback by Entangled Publishing in October 2012 and is available for pre-orderatAmazon and at Barnes and Noble

So what say you, dear readers? Did anyone ever make you a mex tape? Quote song lyrics to you? Which songs do you remember the most? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kristi Cook's Perfect Playlist for MIRAGE

We are thrilled to have Kristi Cook, author of  HAVEN with us today talking about her sequel MIRAGE and developing the perfect playlist. Take it away Kristi... 

Like so many writers, I have my little “routines”—I make myself a cuppa tea with plenty of milk and sugar, settle into my comfy office chair, open up iTunes, find *just* the right song to fit whatever scene I’m about to write, and off I go….

I didn’t used to be able to write with music playing—at least, not music with lyrics, because I found it too distracting.  But now I’ve found that if I put the song on loop, playing over and over again, the lyrics sort of become “invisible” to me.  After about the second time through, I stop singing along and get caught up in the song’s atmosphere, instead.  And an atmospheric song really does help my writing process.

So, when it’s time to compile a playlist for one of my books, I start with some of the songs I’ve listened to while writing the book, even if the lyrics don’t really fit the story.  In those cases, the song’s atmosphere or flavor *does* match—at least in my head—and that’s just as important.

For the rest of the playlist, I generally find myself scouting out songs that fit the story as I’m writing it.  When I listen to the radio, I pay closer attention to lyrics.  When I hear something that fits, I Shazam it and then add it to my list.  Sometimes my kids suggest songs (that’s how “Bodies” by Drowning Pool ended up on the HAVEN playlist!). 

 In the same way that a really good movie “companion” soundtrack creates a mood that makes you think of the movie whenever you hear it, I think a good book playlist does the same.  I mean, I cannot hear the song “Safe & Sound” (Taylor Swift, featuring the Civil Wars) without thinking of The Hunger Games, even though the song was never played in the movie itself.  Still, it fits *perfectly* and I literally see Katniss and Peeta in my mind whenever I listen to it.  I hope that my playlists evoke an image of the Winterhaven School in readers’ minds—that they see Violet and Aidan and all their friends as they listen.  

Compiling the perfect playlist is hard.  I obsess over every song, constantly making changes as I swap out one song for another until I get what feels like the perfect mix.  I’m still working on the MIRAGE playlist, but I’ll leave you with a little sampler of what I’ve got so far:  

This is one of those songs that I heard on the radio while driving somewhere, and immediately grabbed my phone and jotted down the title/artist (thank you iPhone and Siri!  I did it hands-free!).  This song is perfect for the book.  If there was a movie made of MIRAGE and I was in charge of the soundtrack, this song would be playing  at the very end of the last scene, and then as credits began to roll.  For me, this is a Violet song.  

This song is crazily popular right now, but I vividly remember the first time I heard it (again, while driving!).  I had to Shazam it (because I was like, Gotye?  Who the heck is Gotye, and how do you spell it?!), but I knew right away that I had to include it.  This is Kate’s song.  

This one came from my oldest daughter (she’s 12), and she’s right, it’s a perfect fit for MIRAGE.  This is an Aidan song, for sure. 

Yet another song I heard on the radio and decided it was perfect—the lyrics somewhat, but definitely the song’s atmosphere.  Plus, I wanted to include a Linkin Park song, since they get a mention in the book itself. 

Fans of the WINTERHAVEN series can expect the complete MIRAGE playlist soon.
 Want to contact me?  E-mail me at
Would you like a signed HAVEN bookmark (or a stack of them?!). Just send a SASE to: Kristi Cook, c/o Enterprise Press, 1 West Forest Ave., Englewood, NJ 07631

Be sure and let me know how many you’d like!
Other ways to get in touch?  Follow me on Twitter @Kristi_Cook or “Like” my Facebook page HERE.

Thanks Kristi.  MIRAGE is now available and it is A-MA-ZING! #GoTeamAidan

Your Turn: What's on the playlist for your favorite book?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pompin' My Circumstance

by Kimberly MacCarron

     I’ll start this blog topic of Motivating Music:  the Soundtrack of our Lives with my last song from my high school play list, and I’ll give you a hint.  It’s heard repeatedly during this time of the year.  Yes!   Pomp and Circumstance.

     To this day I can’t listen to the graduation march without tearing up and remembering those last days of high school.  The laughs and the tears.  The hopes and the fears.  The anxiety and elation.  What a rollercoaster of emotions!  But more than anything, I remember the friendships and relationships that sustained me throughout those formative years. 

     My senior year of high school was spent with friends of all types, and our musical interests were as varied as could be.  For our senior class trip to Florida, we earned money by having car washes every weekend for what seemed like forever.  Those were the best times.  Hot and sweaty days spent laughing and soaping up cars while listening to music in the parking lot of the local gas station.  With all of us liking different kinds of music, those were the days we learned about the art of compromise.  Some liked Metallica.  On the opposite side of the musical spectrum, others liked Christian singers like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.  Somewhere in the middle, we compromised with U2 and Journey.  God bless you, Joshua Tree!  Senior year would not have been the same—with or without you.

     During these periods of compromise, I learned that it was possible to enjoy lots of different songs, different music.  At the time I thought I just suffered from a heightened form of identity crisis.  I had no clue who I was or what I wanted to be.  I had to no clue what I liked.  I switched boyfriends as often as my nail polish and then switched back.  I was one confused teenager.  And music only compounded those feelings.  One moment I cried while listening to Whitney sing about almost having it all, and then the next minute I was screaming along with Bon Jovi, who was livin’ on a prayer.  From Prince’s Kiss to Michael W. Smith’s Friends, I felt like a schizophrenic. Who was I really?  Will the real Kim MacCarron please stand up!

     Then I realized that the mash-up going on inside my Glee-like head was the real me.  I liked different styles, different friends, different cultures.  I like to tell myself even today that I’m not confused with my identity.  I’m merely eclectic.  J
Let me share with you some of my favorite songs from my high school years.

Kim’s Eclectic Play List :
1.  Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now—Starship
2.  Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone—Glass Tiger 
3.  That’s What Friends are for—Dionne and Friends
4.  I Melt with You—Modern English
5.  Kiss—Prince
6.  Livin’ on a Prayer—Bon Jovi
7.  Friends (are friends forever)—Michael W. Smith
8.  Never—Heart
9.  High Flying Adored—from Evita
10. If You Leave—OMD
11. Take My Breath Away—Berlin
12. Somewhere Down the Road—Barry Manilow 
13. Pomp and Circumstance
     I couldn’t include U2, Journey or Queen because to pick just one their songs is like a mom picking her favorite kid.  It can’t be done.  When I hear any of these songs, it takes me straight back to high school.  I learned to like some of these songs from different friends.  I think of Billy every time I hear I Melt with You.   I think about watching Top Gun with my friends at school, and drooling over Tom Cruise when I hear the Berlin song.  I remember listening to Michael W. Smith’s song over and over while I cried about what could happen to our friendships when we all moved away and scattered to different colleges.  When our lives would take us in different directions.
     Did I stay in touch with these friends?  No.  Sadly, I didn’t.  But, with a bittersweet smile, I think of them often.  Every time I listen to the radio and certain songs come on, it takes me back to them.

     I like to think that I am who I am today because of these high school friends and the music we listened to during our car washes.  I’m just as varied in my musical choices and my relationships as I was then.  My friends range from just about every cultural, political and religious background, and they all add something to my life.  I enjoy hearing other people’s points of view.  It might not be mine, but I like to hear why people believe the way they do.  How they were influenced in their formative years and how closely they stuck to what they were then.  I feel like I’ll never be done learning about who I am.  I still struggle with my beliefs.  I don’t consider myself wishy-washy, but I can switch sides on a topic after listening to another point of view. 

     Compromise is a beautiful thing as long as we don’t compromise on the big things.  And, sometimes, we can change our minds even about the big things when we’re willing to hear a different point of view.  Isn’t that a part of life?
     I like to think so.