Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Friendship Alone Can be the Biggest Benefit, by B.A. Binns


Some people think teen boys and girls can never be just friends.  Once those darn hormone levels rise, that’s it for friendship. From then on male-female relationships are all about one thing. Hooking a partner. As Harry explains in “When Harry Met Sally,” men and women cannot be just friends. Ever.
Don’t you believe it.

I’m more into the Elton John, Making Friends thing from the 1971 movie Friends.  The lyrics say that

Friends are found on every road.

I believe that. If you get a chance, check out the video:
That kind of thinking belongs to older generations (mine included) when the only reason for guys and girls to get together was for dating purposes. In the old, old days, girls stayed with Mom and boys went off with Dad to learn how to become MEN. The two groups only came in contact when the boys were ready to pick a wife. As recently as my own generation (I won’t tell you when I was in high school year, but I am about to become a grandmother) things were almost as bad. Sports, sciences and the workplace were guy havens. Girls got to cheer on the boys, took Home Ec, and waited for a guy to ask her out. Yet, even in my day, it was possible for a guy and a girl to be just friends, without benefits.

I know. I was one of the lucky girls who had a guy friend.

In a 2001 article for Psychology Today, Camille Chatterjee discussed what she called “cross-sex buddyhood.”

These days, shared interests, and even simple proximity do a lot to make these friendships possible. While there are still challenges to cross-sex friendships, including the “you’re not really just friends” kinds of comments.
In my upcoming book, BEING GOD, the teen couple I write about end up calling themselves Platonic Soulmates.  Okay, that’s HER term for the relationship, HE just calls them buddies. Either way, the result is a friendship outside the confines of a romantic relationship that helps both of them through difficult times.  I drew a lot of their interactions from fond memories of my own cross-sex buddy from high school. (Who says authors don’t pull from their own lives?) Gil and I were both science nerds—that shared interests thing. Hours in the school science lab sparked the friendship. We cared about each other, worried about our achievements. Boyfriends came and went. Gil stayed. I always knew there was someone I could share with. One of my best high school memories is rushing to be at the science fair to be with him in case he won an award. He didn’t, so I was at his side while he dealt with defeat.  

Mostly we talked, bragging on the world-altering discoveries we would make in the future.  I was the person he could talk to about things other than sports. He was the friend I didn’t have to discuss fashion with.  I never cried on his shoulder about a lost boyfriend, that’s what my female friends were for. He never asked me to tell a girl he like her, that was his business. I think we both subconsciously understood there was a line we shouldn’t cross if we wanted our friendship to continue. We simply enjoyed each other’s company. Gil told me I was the one person he could share feelings with. He was like a big brother, without the hassles I had with my real brother. He’s the guy who told me how guys think.

I was fortunate enough to watch the same thing happen to my daughter. She and my best friend’s son became friends in kindergarten. Their friendship lasted over the years, even though they attended different high schools. She now lives in Illinois and is expecting her first child. He’s in New Mexico. They still call and chatter about life together. For them, gender means as little as distance.

Things went a little different for me. Graduation meant Gil and I went to different colleges. We lost touch. The same thing happened between me and many of my female friends. The distance and time thing sucks. But I still remember Gil and the conversations and feelings we shared.  He made my high school years brighter. I hope he remembers me fondly.

B. A. Binns, winner of the 2010 National Readers Choice award and a 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, writes to attract and inspire readers with stories about “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.” She visits schools and libraries, discussing writing and was to engage reluctant readers.

Her debut YA novel, PULL, is the story of a young man’s journey from guilt and the fear that biology forces him to repeat his father’s violence, to the realization that his future is in his own hands. Voya called PULL a book where “…once you've read the first page, you’re hooked.” 

Her second novel, BEING GOD, is about a teenaged alcoholic whose male and female best friends help pull him through his personal bottom. BEING GOD will be released in the fall of 2012.

Check out her websiteConnect with her on FacebookFollow her on twitter.
 
So what about you readers? Have you had experiences with “Platonic Soulmates?” Have you had friends of other genders? Please share how things went for you guys.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can Teenage Guys and Girls be "Just Friends"?

This week I have the honor of kicking-off our new theme Boyfriends or, Friends who Happen to be Boys. When I came up with this idea, I assumed it would be easy to write. I’ve already covered the boyfriend side of the equation, so I figured I’d take a whack at the other side. Surely, among the various groups of friends I had a teen, at least one of them had to be a guy, right?

Well, it depends on how you define “friend.”

Sure, I had male acquaintances. A few were fairly decent pals, especially the guys I spent time with in vocal jazz class and drama club. But did I have any close guy friends, boys to whom I could confide my innermost feelings and secrets? A relationship like the one showcased in 1989’s Say Anything? 
No, I’m not talking about Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court. I’m talking about Lloyd’s friendship with Corey and DC. He confides in his two best girl friends who are genuinely supportive of him and help him navigate this relationship with Diane.
Admit it, you can hear the song, "Joe Lies" in your head, too.
Nope, I never got that lucky. The more I think about the boys I knew fairly well in high school, in nearly every instance there was some kind of romantic element to the relationship. Invariably, I had an unrequited crush on the boy; the boy was crushing on me; or somehow—usually under the influence of too many wine coolers—a guy friend and I ended up messing around on a beach or in a dark room at some party.

Pop culture is filled with these types of relationships. Remember Pretty in Pink? Duckie was secretly in love with his best friend Andie, but played it off as a joke in front of her.  And how about Some Kind of Wonderful? Drum playing tomboy Watts thinks her feelings for working class misfit Keith are platonic until he asks out the wealthy popular girl, Amanda. Class warfare hijinks ensue and in the end, Keith releases he’s in love with Watts, too and they live happily ever after.

So, this reminds me of the eternal question posed in When Harry Met Sally: Can men and women ever be just friends? 
As an adult, I’ve come to think that yes, in some circumstances, grown-up men and women can be friends. But what about teenagers? Is it actually possible? Or are there too many raging hormones? Too much impulsivity?

I hope not. I want to believe teen girls and guys can be “just friends” and have each other’s back when it matters. I think I would have benefited from a real, platonic guy friendship. I’m sure a friend-who-just-happened-to-be-a-boy could have helped me avoid some of the idiots I pined after and/or got involved with. At least, that’s what I imagine.

So how about you? Did you have a good guy friend as a teenager? A friend who just happened to be a boy? Was it strictly platonic or were there secret (or not so secret) romantic feelings lurking in the background? I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say!

~Lea

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-order atAmazon and at Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Agent Interview: Beth Miller of Writer's House




Beth Miller is a junior agent at Writers House, where she has worked with Robin Rue since 2007. She is looking for fantastic YA in all subgenres, as well as adult romance and fantasy.

In her other life, Beth was a DNA sequencing technician at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. She much prefers books to E. coli, and enjoys scuba diving and road trips in her spare time. She also has a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts).


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

Two books come to mind right off the bat: A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET & A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT, both by Madeleine L’Engle. I loved the former because it involved time travel by way of unicorn, and the latter because the girl can communicate with dolphins. When I was in high school, my dream was to work with dolphins—I even went to college as a marine biology major (which didn’t stick)—so this was just a perfect book for me to love.

I also really loved the teen thrillers—anything by Christopher Pike and his thriller contemporaries, and the Vampire Diaries novels by L.J. Smith. My copies of those books—which I still have—are all dog-eared and falling apart from multiple reads.

2. What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you are most inclined to get all your friends to read?

One book that thrilled the heck out of me over this past year is THE SCORPIO RACES, by Maggie Stiefvater—this was just such a different book from everything else that’s out there. I loved the water horses; the romance; the lonely, windswept island setting. Just loved, loved, loved it.

I also have been telling everyone about Erica O’Rourke’s TORN and TANGLED, in which the heroine, Mo, finds herself caught between her uncle’s shady mob association and a world of magic she never knew existed. Oh, and she’s also caught between two of the dreamiest guys ever, Luc & Colin (Team Colin!). These are great books, and I can’t wait for the third, BOUND, which comes out not soon enough.

And for those of you who still love a good vampire book—I know you’re out there!—I really loved Veronica Wolff’s ISLE OF NIGHT & VAMPIRE’S KISS (Books 1 & 2 of The Watchers series). A teen girl trying to escape her crappy home life accepts the offer of a hot (HOT) boy to live on a remote island in the North Sea where she will train to become a Watcher—an elite group of women who are the caretakers of the male-only vampires. But it’s survival of the fittest on the Isle of Night—and those who don’t make the cut don’t leave the island alive.

If I can also promote another forthcoming YA—I highly recommend DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN, by J.A. London (June, 2012). It takes place in a dark alternate world where the vampires and humans battled — and the vampires won. Now the country is in ruins, all but for a few cities, each of which answers to a Vampire Lord. Dawn is a teen girl who has become the liaison to the vampire lord, Valentine, after her parents’ murder. She must somehow find a way to get the resentful humans in her city to donate the required quote of blood…or else. And then she meets sexy Victor, who isn’t all he seems, and she soon learns that not all vampires are created equal.

3. How have those earlier book-loving years impacted your career as an agent?

I love a wide variety of books: from contemporary to thriller to fantasy (and almost all of which have that romance as well—so important in the YA genre), and I think that love has made me willing to take a look at almost anything that sounds interesting. It has also enabled me to multitask my reading—I am often in the middle of several books and manuscripts at the same time. That love of books has also helped me know pretty quickly whether something is to my taste or not, which is super-helpful in this business.

Plus, I just feel really lucky to be able to read books and get paid for it, to see new talent and help hone that talent, to have that thrilling moment when I read something that’s REALLY GOOD—that makes me forget where I am and makes me want to throttle anyone who distracts me from finishing it.

4. What would make a query really stand out for you?

It’s funny — most of the time, the queries stand out in a bad way—poor writing, an obnoxious letter, etc. Given that I’m interested in so many different genres, if the query is well-written and the story sounds intriguing, I’ll request it.

5. When you receive requested pages, is there one specific thing you're looking for more than any other (story, voice, character)? And is there anything that's going to make those pages an automatic pass?

I’m looking for something unputdownable. It’s a vague answer, I know, but I know it when I see it—when I can’t stop turning those pages (or hitting that NEXT button), and I’m hanging on every word (and generally not picking out what’s wrong with it). If I am reading a manuscript and find myself flipping over to something else, or putting it down and not picking it back up, then generally it’s not right for me.
An automatic pass would be poor quality of the writing. Often, if the writing is good and the story has potential but needs work, I can think about whether I want to try and give some notes and read a revision. But if the writing is poor, there’s really no way to fix that.

6. You are very selective as you build your client list. What are some traits you look for in an “ideal” client?

This is a tough one. First and foremost, of course, is the writing — something new and different and fun. But there’s more to it than that, which is the hard part. I want to work with someone who has more than just one book in him or her, someone who I hope I can work with on a long-term basis. And of course, you never really know that going into it. So I look for the first part—the great writing and great story, and hope that the rest falls into place too!

7. Is there anything on your current wish list? Anything on your "I hope I never see another____" list?

I don’t really have an “I never want to see another ____” list, because there’s always the possibility that someone will do something new and different with vampires or angels or shifters or witches. So I’ll just say I’m looking for something new and different, or a new twist on something tried-and-true. And always great writing!

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

I could go on at length about the querying process—and I’ll try not to. But please, if you’re going to query, do your homework—there are so many great resources out there in the blogosphere and on Absolute Write’s forum. Blasting out your email query to everyone under the sun (in the same email) will get you nothing but deleted from everyone’s inbox. Being obnoxious and arrogant will probably get you rejected as well—remember that we have to want to work with you.

And please be polite and courteous, and make sure you’re prepared for rejection. I only say this because I got a particularly disgusting reply to an email rejection I recently sent, and that’s never okay. This is business—it’s not personal, so don’t make it personal. Wishing me a slow painful death, or some other nasty response, gets you nowhere.

Remember that we agent-folk WANT to read your work, so write some good stuff and send it to us! :-)

Submission instructions / requirements:

Please feel free to email me at bmiller@writershouse.com, and include your query letter, first five or so pages (to the nearest break—please don’t leave me hanging in the middle of a sentence!), and a synopsis—all pasted in to the body of the email.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, My Boyfriend’s a Jerk and I’m a Doormat

Valentines Day 1988 was supposed to be awesome. Like the best, most epic Valentines Day that ever was. I was in luurve. Seriously, deeply, head-over-Candie’s-pumps in love with my boyfriend, Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like. I’m not lying, he looked exactly like the kid who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 
Despite his uncanny resemblance, my boyfriend was convinced he actually looked like George Michael, circa Wham! 
Given the respective record of both of these guys, I think Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like would have been wise to agree with me.

However, I digress. Back to Valentine’s Day 1988. The reason it was supposed to be so incredibly amazing was that--aside from the fact that I actually had a boyfriend (score!)--his father was a floral wholesaler (double score!). There was no way I wasn’t going to ring in the holiday without the most jaw-dropping bouquet of flowers, right? Right?

Ever hear the expression, the shoemaker wears no shoes?

This is what I got on Valentines Day. A big fat vase full of nothing. Not even a card or a cheap drug-store box of chocolates. But I did get a promise that eventually I’d get some roses. You see, his dad was working on it but roses were scarce during Valentines, plus they cost an arm-and-a leg and, blahbity blah blah blah...well, he’d make it up to me.

My parents weren’t impressed. “If he cared about you, he’d have gotten you something, anything to prove it,” they told me. But I was in love and unfazed by their fuddy-duddy logic. What did they know? Pshaw, they were only parents.

The following week came and went. Nothing.

My mother crossed her arms and pursed her lips. “This boy isn’t worth it. He’s treating you like dirt and you’re letting him.”

Mother.” I sighed, exasperated by her relentless judgment. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Couldn’t she see how amazing he was? He looked like Wil Wheaton for god’s sakes! Besides, I knew she was just jaded by the fact that despite being six months older than me, Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like didn’t have a driver’s license so I was the one who constantly drove the ten miles to see him at his house.

“Uh huh.” She answered and spun on her heels, leaving me alone in my room with an empty vase.

Finally, two weeks after Valentines he came through with not one, but two dozen long stem red roses. Unfortunately, they were individually packaged in newsprint, fresh from the wholesale floor.  

“Look, mom. Aren’t they gorgeous?” I beamed as I unwrapped the newspaper bundles then snipped off the ends and arranged them in my vase.

“Sure, but they would have looked better two weeks ago. And why didn’t he put them together himself? How much effort would that have taken? Why didn’t he add a little baby’s breath or fern leaves or something? Not to mention a little fancy tissue paper and cellophane. He didn’t give you two dozen roses, he gave you two packages so you could do all the work yourself. When are you going to learn you deserve better than that?” 

I bit my tongue, furious with her astute and cutting analysis and realized…I couldn’t totally disagree with her. She kind of had a point. But I was seventeen and proud, pig-headed and desperate not to break up with my boyfriend. So I vowed never, ever to concede she was right. But that didn’t mean I didn’t secretly agree with her.

So what did I do about it? Did I give back those roses, preferably with the buds hacked off and/or plucked of their luscious petals? Did I tell him that if he couldn’t deliver when it mattered, he might has well have avoided the effort all together? Did I make a stand and break up with him for expecting me to wait in line behind his father’s customers?

Nope. I kept them, gushed over them, told my friends how beautiful they were, even let them dry and preserved them in my room for the rest of the year.

I was a doormat. I kept driving him around, jumping whenever he called, spending my hard earned waitressing dollars on him and never expecting fair reciprocity in return.

I didn’t fight for myself, even when he threw those damn roses in my face. One night, after I apparently hadn’t shown enough appreciation for my tardy Valentine’s Day present, Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like quipped, “You know, my dad went to a lot of trouble to get you those.”

Now, I distinctly remember thinking, Really? ‘Cause your dad’s a wholesaler, so I’d have thought those were pretty easy to come by, especially since Valentine’s Day is over. But those words remained in my head and never crossed my lips. I was too afraid to say, “Guess what, jerk-off, those roses suck and so do you. Now get out of my car.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to say things like that for a long, long time. Not until I was a full-fledged adult with a whole lot more experience under my belt. But I still count this as a Lesson I Learned from Teen Love. I should have demanded better treatment, to be a priority, and in the immortal words of Madonna:
“Don't go for second best baby
Put your love to the test
You know, you know, you've got to
Make him express how he feels
And maybe then you'll know your love is real.”
~Express Yourself

So, whatever happened to Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like? He and I dated for the rest of that school year and summer, and had a long friendship afterwards. He even came to my wedding. Now he’s married and has two gorgeous daughters. His father’s no longer a floral wholesaler, so I’m guessing he gets his flowers the old fashioned way.

~Lea

You can learn more about Lea Nolan at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, 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-order at Amazon





So what say you, gentle readers? Did you ever play the doormat in a relationship? How’d you learn to stand up and brush yourself off?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Leah Cypess' Loveless High School Existence


When I first saw this topic post, my initial reaction was, “eep!” (actually, I think I sent an email to Lea with “Eep” as the subject line.) Here’s the thing: I went to an all-girls high school. I had not a single date, not a single romance, not a single crush on a guy I actually knew in all of high school. So what do I know about teen love? Nothing, I thought.

Then I thought, Well, maybe I could write about that.

If I’m to go by the stories told by most of the YA books I read, romance is an essential part of the teen experience. First crush, first kiss, first boyfriend, first heartbreak… it’s all supposed to happen in high school, right? It’s part of growing up. 
Except for me, it wasn’t.

So here’s the question: Did I miss out?

When I was in high school, of course, I wished my school was co-ed. The YA books back then, different as the genre was, were often focused on romance as well. Not to mention, I was a teenager with quite functional hormones. I thought having guys in school would be the best thing ever.
Looking back, I realize I was kind of an idiot.

Here’s the thing: I was not very attractive in high school. I had bad hair, I had bad glasses, I had bad acne, and I didn’t hit puberty until I was about sixteen. Had there been guys in my high school, I rather suspect they would not have been falling all over themselves to ask me out. I suspect that having a chance at “teen love” in high school would have more likely exposed me up to emotional harm at a very vulnerable point in my life.
[Hollywood’s version of an unattractive girl.
This bears no resemblance to what I looked like in high school.]
 
Not that being in an all-girls high school entirely shielded me from society’s pressure to value myself based on how attractive I was. My friends and I regularly did the “we’re so ugly, we’re so fat” bouts of complaining. But we also went to school at times – especially during finals – without tucking in our shirts or brushing our hair or putting on a dab of makeup. I actually bought makeup for the first time when I was 18 years old.

So again: Did I miss out?
Obviously, many girls have great relationships with guys in high school. In some cases, that’s where they meet the guy they end up spending their lives with. More often, they get to have “practice relationships” with really nice guys (though I do have enough experience to say that the teenage years are usually not when guys hit their maximum niceness levels). And perhaps they learn a lot, about relationships, about themselves, about life. So I can’t say with one hundred percent certainty, obviously, since I never did go to a co-ed school. (And I’m looking forward to hearing agreement and disagreement from those who did!) But my instinct is that, no, I probably didn’t miss out. If anything, I think I might have gained.

So I guess what I learned about teenage love, really, is that it’s not necessary. Not a popular opinion, I know, when it’s such a large part of the high school experience for most people. But for me, I think that doing without it worked out quite well.

~Leah

Leah Cypess is the author of Mistwood and Nightspell, published by Greenwillow/Harper Collins. You can learn more about her at her website, Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter.


Thanks so much for stopping by, Leah! This was a great post. I think I have to agree with you - without a bunch of boys in the mix, you probably had a lot more time and energy than I did to focus on school. 

So what's your take, gentle readers? What are the pros and cons of a loveless high school existence?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Those Fearless Tumbles into Love

I’m a bit jealous of teenage love.
At no time in our lives do we experience that soul-shattering, heart-rending, head-first tumble into love. And out of love. Then back into love.
The differences between teenage and adult love are very few. Some parents tell their teen kids that it’s puppy love. That they’ll grow out of it. That they’re making a big deal out of nothing or—even the opposite—that they’re making a huge mistake.
That’s just ignorance or denial talking. Maybe you don’t want your kids to feel that same heartbreak, that same pain and loss. But, if you don’t experience those feelings, you probably also won’t experience the butterflies, the yearning, the excitement of first love. Of knowing that there are possibilities. A heart full of them.
I distinctly remember falling in and out of love as a teenager with great regularity, and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. With each rush of emotion, I learned. With each tear and with each laugh, I learned how to deal with my emotions and how to treasure a relationship.
My grandmother always told me to “play the field.” In those days, that term probably meant something far different than today’s terminology of being a “player.” My grandmother mistakenly thought that if I dated several boys that I wouldn’t lose my heart to any of them. Unfortunately, I lost my heart to all of them. Simultaneously. But that’s the amazing thing about teen love. Our hearts are open. We love with a passion that many adults will never see again. Because teens have…hope.
Hope that the relationship will work out. That the boy will never hurt us. That he won’t ever betray us with a trusted friend. That the positive will always far outweigh the negative. Who hasn’t written their first name with the boy’s last name a gazillion times on pieces of paper littering their bedroom floors? Hell, at one point, I wrote my name with the last name of three boys in one week.
As my daughters are nearing the age of that fearless excitement that comes with the teen years, I think back a lot to those times for me. And I think of them fondly. My daughters have heard all my stories, and they know the names of all my old boyfriends. We recently unearthed boxes of pictures, so now the names have faces. But, above all, I tell them that I lost my heart many times to many boys, but I physically held back. I never did more than park in a car for some kisses at the end of a date. I knew then that I wasn’t ready. I tell my girls that if the boys use the line, “If you love me, you would,” then he really doesn’t love you. And you can move on with no backward glances and no regrets.
As an adult, I’ve seen some of my friends going through separations and divorces, and with each end to a relationship, the bitterness and cynicism creeps in. The hope is long gone. The unguarded passion is withheld because their hearts can’t take any more pain. And that’s when I look at teens holding hands in a movie theater, and I envy them that. That hope. That excitement. That fearless tumble into love.
I wish adults could feel that same thing once again.
Kimberly MacCarron
“Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful; it’s being terrified but you jump anyway…” – Taylor Swift
When have you been fearless in love as an adult or as a teen? And what did you learn from it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Linda Gerber Dishes on Crushes

I’m about to tell you a true story of teenage love. Well, not love, really, more like massive crushes all around, but since this week’s topic is what we learned from teenage love, we’re going to with it. And we are not, under any circumstances, going to let my kids read this or I will never live it down. Everyone on board? Okay, here we go.

When I was a freshman in high school, I fell head over heels for a guy I met at a make out party. No, I didn’t know going in that it was going to turn into that kind of party, but yes, I made out with a guy I just met. Now hush.

I thought I was in love. He was cute, he was mysterious (okay, so he was simply from another school, but that right there made him way more mysterious than any of the guys I saw every day) and I quite enjoyed the way he kissed. So when he never called me after that night, I was crushed.

I asked around about him, only to find that he had a reputation for being a “player”. I felt completely stupid for having fallen for his lines. And angry. Very, very angry. I cried to my friend about it one night, and we decided he needed to learn a lesson. He needed to see what it felt like to be used.

Impulsively, she called his house, and when he answered, she pretended to be a breathy young thing named Lisa who had dialed the wrong number. Based on what we’d heard about him, we figured he’d try to flirt with her. Sure enough, he did. “Lisa” flirted back. The idea was for her to toy with him just long enough to get him interested, and then hang up and never talk to him again.

But what’s the fun in that?

One call became many. We created an entire backstory for Lisa, including a detailed reason why he could never call her; she could only call him. He bought it. He played into the scenario better than we could have imagined… so well, in fact, that “Lisa” decided to meet him in person.

They made plans to rendezvous at a movie theater. We debated whether she should simply stand him up, or go through with the date. Leaving him hanging in the theater would have achieved our ends, but I think down inside, my friend really wanted to meet him. She went, and they had a fantastic date. He was completely hooked. Triumph! Now she could disappear and never call him again and he’d know what it felt like.

Only she didn’t want to disappear. She wanted to see him again. I reminded her of all the bad things we’d heard about him. I reminded her about how he had blown me off. I reminded her that technically, she didn’t exist. But I think she secretly believed it could work out.

And that right there is the biggest lesson I learned from teenage love. Teens are hopeful. It doesn’t matter how improbable the scenario, young hearts are willing to overlook the obvious and believe in the potential if they want it bad enough. When you’re young and looking for love, anything is possible.

I think that’s why I love reading (and writing) YA so much. I love the possibilities. I love the crazy things characters do. I love the hope.

Now here’s a question for you: how do you think the story ended? Why?

Linda Gerber is the author of two S.A.S.S. books, the fabulous Death By mystery series, and the intriguing Trance. Her new series, Lights, Camera, Cassidy, releases next week. Keep up with Linda at www.lindagerber.com

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is There an Always?


I have this weird memory problem. For months on end I forget my television subscription includes Showtime. (I also periodically think I DO get Cinemax. I blame this confusion on “free channel weekends.” ) So I was a pretty happy camper the other day when I took a chance and clicked on one of the Showtime channels and learned I really do get that channel! And the movie I wanted to see enough to take the chance?
“Gross Pointe Blank”

If you’ve never seen it (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t have. john Cusack is sorta timeless), the movie is about Martin Blank, a professional hitman returning to a Detroit suburb to take care of a little business and attend his 10-year high school reunion. Except it’s not really the reunion that keeps him lingering in town and putting off doing the job. It’s his high school sweetheart, Debi Newberry (played by Minnie Driver).

As the story goes, Martin left Grosse Pointe on prom night-- before prom began, in fact -- without so much as a phone call to warn his girlfriend Debi he wouldn’t be escorting her to the Biggest High School Dance Ever. After she spent seven hundred dollars on a dress, and everything.

Talk about broken-hearted! Oh, my God. Poor Debi! Stood up on prom night. Could you imagine?

This is probably the point where you expect me to say not only can I imagine it, I lived it.

Well, no. I didn’t. For me, it was just about as opposite as you can get. I attended my prom without dumping or drama and have lived and loved long enough to wonder why anyone ever thought powder blue tuxedos were a good idea. My date was my boyfriend of a year, and we were both certain we would be spending the rest of our lives together, and we weren’t the only ones. Just like Martin and Debi, everyone knew we were together, everyone thought we always would be.

That was June. By August, when really taking control of our lives wasn’t a far off concept but was something that was truly happening, it became evident we would not always be together. We wanted different things from life, it turned out, and had different ideas on the path ahead. And probably - though I cringe to admit this - we both had some growing up to do. Or, perhaps more accurately, we had more life experience to gain, more time to develop into individuals before committing to be a lifelong pair.

And so I can’t help but wonder. What if Martin didn’t freak out and join the Army and stand up Debi on prom night? What if he stayed, and they stayed together past graduation? stayed together as they started college?

Me? I doubt they would have made it. Clearly Martin had some Serious Issues to work through, and I’m not sure Debi would have been strong enough to stand by him through whatever breakdown he was headed for. But when we meet her at the opening of “Grosse Pointe Blank,” we have no doubt she has developed the strength. She’s become an independent, self-sufficient woman who can more than handle Martin’s sudden reappearance in her life.

(Debi all grown up and ready to kick ass)

So while Debi thought she lost her teen love, he was really only sorta…misplaced. Sure, for a lot of folks teen love lost is love gone. But not for everyone. Somewhere out there, there are more couples like Martin and Debi (though likely without as many guns), more couples who planned to attend prom as the first big step to their life together.

I hope they all live happily ever after.

So here’s your question:

If you’re currently in school, do you know any couples you think will grow old together? Or do you think they’re doomed?
If you’re no longer in school, do you know any couples that dated during school, split up and then reconnected?



{Credit: The dress in photo two is an Alex London design - as is the gown on the cover of 'Shatter Me' by Tahereh Mafi. The website is Alex London Fashion House if you want to swoon over more gorgeous dresses}