Monday, April 30, 2012

Not-so-near but Still Dear to My Heart!


     by Kimberly MacCarron

This topic rocks my socks for so many reasons since I firmly believe that boys and girls can be the best of friends.  I’ve loved the different points of views already shared on this blog.  Everyone has life experiences that color their perceptions, their memories and their future relationships.  My experiences with boys always seemed positive when it came to being friends.

     Girlfriends are great for reading between the lines and trying to figure out what somebody is really saying.  Or not saying.  The dramas are magnified and the feelings intensified.  Boys-who-are-friends want to help solve the problem and see things at face value.  Both are good, needed.

     When I was in high school, I had many friends of both sexes, and they were all valuable and special to me.  Two of my best friends were Billy Samuels and John Tomlanovich.  I’ve known them since seventh grade when we all started attending a new Christian school, and our friendship grew throughout those years.

     My step-dad was an alcoholic who quit drinking when I was five, but somehow—for whatever reason—he began drinking again while I was in high school.  I mention this because a bunch of my friends would often go up to our campground near Seven Springs to hang out for a fun-filled weekend of swimming and hanging around the fire ring in the evenings.  There were many times my step-father would get drunk, stumble around and start telling these friends all about his crappy childhood in great detail.
 
     I was mortified.  All the time.  As only a teenage girl can be. 

     My nervous girlfriends and I would escape and find other things to do, but these two friends-who-were-boys stayed and listened to the drunken ramblings.  Did they stay because they were interested?  No.  They stayed because they cared about me.  And to pull my step-dad back many times before he fell into the campfire.

     A dozen years or so later, Billy and John arrived for my wedding with their own families.  Billy was the minister who married my husband and me.  After a beautiful service and during the reception, I noticed that my step-dad started drinking even after I begged him not to.  It was the only stressful part of that special day.  But, apparently I had worried for naught since he remained quiet and didn’t make any scenes. 

     Or so I thought.

     At the end of the evening, my husband and I said goodnight to most of our two hundred guests.  It was at this point that I heard some slurred loud comments coming from the front where people were parked.  Billy and John were with my step-dad, keeping him somewhat hidden from the guests.
 
     It wasn’t until later when I realized that they had been gone from the reception for quite a while.  And it made me love them the same as I did in high school.  For handling a situation I was completely unaware of.  For allowing me to enjoy my wedding without knowing that they were taking care of my drunken step-dad…one last time.  They sat with him for hours, listening to the same stories they’d heard more than a thousand times during our high school years so that he wouldn’t talk to the other wedding guests. 

     That’s why I love boys-who-are-friends.  My girlfriends were great for helping me fix my hair and giggling with me while pinning my torn wedding gown from jumping in a moonbounce (that’s another story), but it was the boys who solved the behind-the-scenes problem.  Again.
 
     I’m not sure I ever thanked them sufficiently for allowing me those blissful hours of being unaware of such an embarrassing situation on my wedding day. 

     I’m not regularly in touch with either of them anymore, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I called them today, they would be there for me in any way I needed.  And I hope they know I would do the same.  I thank them for all the years they kindly listened to my grandfather talk about his old football days.  For driving me around when they had cars and I didn’t.  For Billy buying me those cream-filled oatmeal sandwiches at lunch just about every day.  For John taking me to see Heart in concert.  I think of them often, and although our lives have gone in different directions, they remain such a significant part of my life that I just wanted to say thanks.  Wherever they are. 

     So, when people ask if boys can be friends, I say yes.  They can be the best!

     My girlfriends have had their own special places in my life, but these two friends from years ago will forever have a hold on my heart for all they’ve been to me.  I’ve never made better friends again.  My memories remain strong, and that hasn’t changed... even through the years.  Or across the miles separating us.  And certainly not by the idea that boys and girls can never be “just friends.” 

Kimberly MacCarron

Friday, April 27, 2012

INSURGENT - SIGNED! - THE FAB FRIDAY GIVEAWAY Updated

you've been waiting patiently for this book...

okay. you've been gnashing your teeth, willing each day to go by faster until you can your hands on it. g'head. admit it.

cos if you admit it, and tell us about how much you want it, and follow the easy peasy guidelines below, you will be entered to win your very own copy! (paper or e)

UPDATE: We've got a signed copy to give away!

c'mon. you know you want it!



How can you win? It's easy! You must:

1. Be a follower of this blog. (Click the blue button on the upper right-hand side of the page that says "Join this site.")

2. Leave a comment to this post and include your contact information. (yourname (at) email (dot) com) We promise not to use your email for any nefarious purpose, such as framing you for murder or adding you to a newsletter.

3. Due to the high cost of international shipping, this giveaway is only open to US residents. By participating, you agree to the rules set forth on our contest disclaimer page.

4. That's it! The contest closes next week, Friday, May 4th, at 5pm EDT. At that time, we'll assign each comment a number and use random.org to choose the winner. If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, we'll choose another winner, and so on.

Feel free to share the news with your friends...just know it won't earn you extra entries. We're all about keepin' it simple here at Honestly YA.

Good luck!

Did I mention the copy you could win is SIGNED!!!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Chloe Jacobs and the Pitfalls of Kissing Your Best Boy Friend


I’m so excited to be a guest on the blog today and want to say thank you to the Honestly YA crew for having me!

I noticed that the discussion has been about boyfriends vs. boys as friends, and it got me thinking about James* (*No last names to protect the innocent). It was Grade 9 so all of us were in a new school and all of us were on the bottom of the social ladder (“Nobody Niners”). James and I had the same classes and hung out with the same people. I don’t remember exactly when or how that happened, since we hadn’t gone to the same elementary school and didn’t live in the same neighbourhood. But by the end of that year he had become one of my very best friends and that didn’t come to an end when school finished. It was the last holiday I spent not having to work through the summer, so we were together constantly (mostly with my little sister and brother dogging my heels). He would show up on his bike after my parents went to work in the morning, and most of the time, he’d still be around when they got back in the evening. It got so that my mom would just automatically plan on making extra food for dinner.

It wasn’t until school started back up in September that things got kind of weird. Up until then we were just two friends who joked around and played video games together, or went to hang out at the Kwik-E-Mart (they had really huge slushies…I always got a blue one). 
But once that second year of high school started, somehow it was different. I think my friend Jenn started it by asking if we were going out. I said no right away. I mean, nobody had ever said anything about “going out” and it’s not like we were MAKING out, but James looked at me like he had a different idea about what this thing between us was—or maybe what he hoped it was going to be.

Of course, as soon as that happened I couldn’t go back to being happy and oblivious. Everything changed. Within a few days we were considered by everyone in school to be a couple. That was a lot of pressure, let me tell you!

Did I regret the change in our relationship dynamic? Well, we were still doing everything together so at first I didn’t really think about it that way…and there was the kissing. I LOVED the kissing. Except…everything felt more dramatic as boyfriend and girlfriend than it had when we were just friends. We argued a lot after that, and I remember crying into my locker countless times. We said and did things to each other that never would have been said or done – or had the same effect – if we’d just been friends, and this lasted pretty much all through high school (with a bit of a break when I started dating his best friend, but that’s another story *wince*). It was like a teeter-totter or a roller coaster. Always going up and crashing back down.

I like that James and I still chat occasionally, but you  know…we NEVER talk about high school.

And yes, this is a photo of my graduating class. I’m the one on the left kneeling by the table with the white shirt on. I’m NOT going to tell you which one is James J

~Chloe Jacobs

Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she'd at least gotten a female cat. No such luck. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers.

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads and look for her YA fantasy GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING in November, 2012!

GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING

While trying to save her brother four years ago, Greta was thrown into the witch’s fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon.

To survive, seventeen-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…

Available for PreOrder at Barnes and Noble and Amazon
 Thanks so much, Chloe. I LOVE the concept of this book and can't wait to read it! 

So here's where we ask our readers for their opinion: How does going from friends to friends-with-benefits impact a friendship? Does it up the "drama factor"? Do you suddenly find yourself fighting over things you wouldn't even notice if things hadn't "progressed"? Spill your guts! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Reader, please help

Dear Fabulous Honestly YA Readers,

You have likely already noticed we blog members select a topic and we each do a bit of a write up on it. Of course you noticed this; you’re an observant lot. And maybe you even wondered how we select the topics. After much deliberation, discussion, meditation, and chocolate, we arrived at a method of selection: we take turns. I tell you this not to expose the wizard behind the curtain -- we all know by now that the magic resides within ourselves, right? -- but to help you appreciate the truth and perhaps desperation in the following statement: This friends-who-are-boys topic was not my idea. Not even remotely. At no point did I think “Oh! I was going to suggest that!”

image from iStockphoto.com
Maybe you recall, dear reader, any previous posts of mine wherein I divulged a truth about my past: I attended an all girls’ high school. Boys were mysterious creatures that spent their days somewhere else, in another building in another town far away from curious girl gazes. And you know, at the time, that was A Good Thing. Think about it. The boys we left behind in middle school or junior high were sloppy, smelly things who often had dirt or food on their faces and thought fart jokes were high humor. By high school, when the boys’ school was invited to our school for dances, the boys danced on one side of the auditorium and the girls danced on the other, with a string of nuns positioned between. (Okay, not really. There was no need for the nuns; we were terrified enough of one another to make any sort of physical divider superfluous.) During those high school years, I met boys at work and at church. And though we were friendly enough, we weren’t really friends. We spent our assigned time together contentedly enough, but “buddies” never shifted to “friends” much less to boyfriend-girlfriend. Not then, at least. Not until college.

So I have no real-life experience dealing with high school boys. even now, in my supposed adulthood, I stop at the local bagel store in the morning, the store that’s overrun by high school students, and I see those boys… and I’m mystified. Surely they can’t be unfathomable creatures? I know the men they turn into and they’re not very complex. Men, I find, are rather simple things and I take comfort in that knowledge. So high school guys can’t be a whole lot different, right? They appear to be just somewhat larger versions of their sloppy smelly middle school selves, only not quite so smelly and often with clean hair (the sloppy seems never to end). They appear loud and boisterous and prone to profanity. And they all seem to think they are the epitome of cool… and the girls all seem to ignore them as if they’re not quite finished becoming human…
 
Which means it perplexes me still. How do boys and girls become friends to begin with? Never mind the question of becoming something more than friends; let’s not complicate things too much. How do these two completely diverse populations ever find enough common ground to build a friendship on? In short, dear readers, I need your help! I need you to tell me the secret. Do you become friends with a guy in the same way you become friends with a girl? Do you discover you have similar interests and slowly start hanging around together, first in a group, and then maybe just the two of you? Do you text back and forth, laugh at the same joke, play video games and watch movies? What makes it possible for boys and girls to be friends?


Please help! High school may have prepared me for appreciating Shakespeare, but there are some serious gaps in my education. thank you!

 ~Jennifer

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fab Friday Giveaway! Win an ARC of BITTERBLUE and a signed copy of THE GUARDIAN!

Happy Friday!

Carey Corp has generously offered to give away TWO awesome books in this week's Fab Friday. One lucky follower will receive an advance copy of Kristin Cashore's BITTERBLUE and an autographed copy of Carey's Golden Heart nominated novel THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN.




How can you win? It's easy! You must:

1. Be a follower of this blog. (Click the blue button on the upper right-hand side of the page that says "Join this site.")

2. Leave a comment to this post and include your contact information. (yourname (at) email (dot) com) We promise not to use your email for any nefarious purpose, such as framing you for murder or adding you to a newsletter.

3. Due to the high cost of international shipping, this giveaway is only open to US residents. By participating, you agree to the rules set forth on our contest disclaimer page.

4. That's it! The contest closes next week, Friday, April 27th, at 5pm EST. At that time, we'll assign each comment a number and use random.org to choose the winner. If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, we'll choose another winner, and so on.

Feel free to share the news with your friends...just know it won't earn you extra entries. We're all about keepin' it simple here at Honestly YA.

Good luck!



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Agent Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Agency


This week we have the distinct pleasure of welcoming the wonderful Louise Fury to Honestly YA. Louise is not only a great agent, but she's a fantastic person and a whole lot of fun to meet at a conference.
Take it away, Louise...

1. What book(s) spoke to you most during your teen years? Do any of them continue to influence you now as an adult, or in your career as an agent?

I loved the LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding and read THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald over and over again (*sigh*). The Diary of Anne Frank really stuck with me and I still own a copy of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (Spin-off novel about the character in Twin Peaks).

All of these amazing books continue to influence me in many ways. I love well written prose; strong, believable characters; bleak, dark, dangerous worlds and interesting plots. I’m particularly drawn to stories with a strong protagonist and right now I find myself drawn to horror or supernatural elements grounded in the real world.

2. 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?

Every sentence should be there for a reason, every word should matter, so I usually stop reading if a book starts with someone waking up or dialogue that isn’t authentic.

I look for manuscripts that showcase an unforgettable, unique and eloquent voice. I want to be sucked right in by a memorable story. The voice can be deep, dark and gritty or literary, lyrical and emotional, but the writing must be smooth and engaging.

I love dark stories with a bone-deep sense of danger that haunts me from page 1 and doesn’t let go of me for days.

I am also looking for sexy romances with creative plots, sexy liaisons and unique characters that sweep me up in their love story and leave me smiling and sighing and longing for the romance to last forever.

And I like to cry. Or laugh. I want to feel something unforgettable when I read your pages. I want manuscripts that I can’t stop thinking about.

3. What are some traits you look for in an “ideal” client? How do you know when the agent-client partnership is a good fit?

I believe in the power of marketing and I look for authors who know how to promote themselves. I only want to work with people who are pleasant online, on the telephone and in person. I want an author who knows that this is a business and is a professional, who understands the value of an agent in all mediums of publishing. But they must have realistic expectations, be patient and not bombard me with every manuscript they have ever written.

4. What’s it like to have Louise Fury as an agent? Are you editorial or more hands-off? Do you brainstorm project ideas with clients? Help them prioritize next projects? 

I think each client would answer that question differently. The same way I would answer that differently in regards to client behavior. I used to be very hands on with editing, but I found that it handicapped some of my clients into depending on me to be their beta readers, their critique partners and their editor. So I still edit, but not as much as I did in the beginning. I focus on big picture edits, common editorial mistakes and plot and character development.

I want and expect every manuscript to be better than the first.

I do a lot of brainstorming with clients and I do offer guidance and advice on prioritizing projects, but my relationship with one client differs from another.

I am also big on marketing and brand development.

Some relationships last, others do not, but this is a business and good, professional writers and agents don’t take change personally. Change is an opportunity for growth.

5. We keep hearing how crowded the YA market is. How can aspiring YA authors ensure their work stands out from the masses?    

Don’t worry about how crowded the market is. Write the best book you can, focus on your strengths and keep editing. Don't write to meet a trend. Trends come and go! Good writing is ALWAYS in demand.

Don't use conversation to dump information. Authentic dialogue is not always overly descriptive and can often be MORE effective if you keep it simple. Listen and make note of conversations. Pay attention to the words people emphasize and the ones they leave out of a discussion. 

Another tip: Read your dialogue out loud with a friend. Is it a conversation you might have? Does it sound like you overheard it somewhere? 

Don't be afraid to try something new.

If you believe in your story and work hard, anything is possible.

Thanks so much for visiting us and sharing your great advice. I know many writers will take it to heart, and hopefully benefit by obtaining representation!
   
To learn more about Louise, follow her on Twitter, and check out her personal website and agency website.   

To see what she's currently looking for click here. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

What I Learned about Boys from 70's Sitcoms


I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who knows me that I am a pink-wearin’, princess lovin’ girly-girl. So when it comes to the topic of ‘Friends who Happen to be Boys,’ I don’t have a ton of personal experience. Sure, I played tag with boys on the playground in elementary school, went fishing with the boy next door, and jumped out of haylofts with my cousins. (I could never quite muster up the courage to ride a cow, though—they’re way stinky!) But as I grew older, boys became more and more of a mystery.

As a teen, I was the girl who the boys wanted to protect or date, or both, not the one they called in the middle of the night to pick them up after they drank too much. Sure, I had ‘friends’ that were boys, but they weren’t deep friendships. Once I hit my pre-teens, these once fun and simple relationships became muddled with hormones and awkward curiosity. Suddenly boys were like a different species.  And I had no idea how to communicate.

So, I turned to the ultimate authority and councilor in a teen’s life…television. I figured that if I couldn’t understand boys, I could learn about them from watching my favorite shows. Like Mork & Mindie – Classic story of girl befriending an alien and then falling in love with him.


What did I learn from this? Friendships (even with boys of a different species) ended in true love.

But this topic was much too important to jump to conclusions based on one clearly improbable sitcom. Further research was most definitely in order. So for my next lesson in male-female relationships, I turned to another favorite show—Three’s Company. Surely if there was ever a perfect case study in opposite sex friendships, it was a show about a boy with two girl roommates!


But it seemed Jack was alternately in love with Janet, Chrissy, and all his subsequent blond roommates. The plot of almost every episode revolved around Jack flirting with his two girl ‘friends’ and his elaborate strategies to get them to sleep with him—or at least see them naked.

As an impressionable pre-teen girl, I learned that boys only want one thing, and it wasn’t platonic, tell-each-other-all-our-secrets friendship.  

Even my favorite childhood show, Happy Days, resulted in two childhood buddies spinning off into their own sitcom called…yep, you guessed it, Joanie Loves Chachi.


Okay, I admit it, I’d been gunning for those two to end up together since Chachi said his first “Wah wah waah!” But I think you get the picture. It was firmly imbedded in my mind that friendship with a boy resulted in…well, more than friendship.

Which being the ever-cautious girl that I was, caused me to keep my emotional and physical distance from the boys in my circle of friends. I tended to lump every male, non-relative in my life into two categories: Boyfriend material and NOT Boyfriend material. If they were not boyfriend material, I kept them at an inflexible distance. Which is kind of judgmental and sad.

As I write this blog, my two sons are outside playing with the neighbor girl who they both claim is their “best friend.” I’m tempted to warn them that since she just turned twelve, it won’t be long before she abandons fort building and insect-collecting, for pedicures and boy-chasing—but I won’t. Because I would love to see their friendship evolve as they mature and become a safe place for them to land as they navigate the choppy waters of the teen years.

And if someday, one of them decides to ask her on a date, I’d be cool with that too. J

How about you? What shows, books or experiences shaped your perception of boy-girl friendship?

Lorie

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Lisa Burstein Explains Why Fantasy is Better than Reality


It was the summer of 1993, the summer before my senior year. There were a lot of things that were terrible about that summer: I was in summer school for Trig, I was in trouble with my parents for being in summer school for Trig. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere but summer school and my job in the produce department of a grocery store.  There was one thing that was amazing about that summer, the friend I wanted to turn into a boyfriend, referred to in my diary of the time as "B".

"B" and I met at summer school. He was a year younger than me and looked like Judd Nelson when he was in The Breakfast Club. He looked like Judd Nelson, but he acted like Peter Pan(without the singing), he was creative, kind, sensitive, funny and seemed to actually like me as a person. He seemed magical.

We spent a lot of time together that summer. I picked him up and drove him home from summer school. We hung out at his house most evenings until my 10pm curfew mandated because I was in summer school. Usually we would lay on the grass in his front yard, talking about what shapes the clouds reminded us of (I told you he was sensitive!) as it got darker we would stare at the stars, just two parallel lines in the grass never connecting. I wanted so badly to reach out for his hand, could feel it pulling on mine like a magnet, but I never did. I was scared, scared he didn't feel the same way and scared that our special, beautiful delicate friendship would die if I pushed for more.

But I wanted more, so I waited.

It wasn't until the middle of my senior year that something started to change. We were still friends, to the constant irritation of his girlfriend, but then one day they broke up. Mutual, (yeah right), but whatever it was good enough for me. That night we took a long drive. I have a red jeep Cherokee if you want to picture it. Bright, fire engine red, him sitting next to me in the passenger seat, on a cold, winter night. We parked under the same stars we had stared at all summer, but something felt different. I thought maybe he would kiss me. I thought maybe he would tell me that he like, liked me. Then, he reached for my crotch.

Yes, the romantic moment I had been waiting months for was a crotch grab. He kept his hand on my upper thigh, rubbing it over my jeans and I sat there, totally confused. After about ten minutes he stopped. He never leaned over to kiss me. He never insisted I touch him or said anything about feeling everything I had felt and being so glad he could finally express it. No, just a crotch grab and after that night we never talked about it again.

What did I learn from this? Usually the fantasy is better than the reality, especially where friends that are boys are concerned.


PRETTY AMY


Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing. 

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

PRETTY AMY will be released in May 2012 by Entangled Publishing.  You can add it to your Goodreads pile and pre-order it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


To learn more about Lisa Burstein, visit her website, blog, or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by Lisa. What a great story. I'm not sure how I would have handled the crotch grab! So here's where we throw it to you, gentle readers, did you have a similar experience trying to take a friendship to the next level?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Youuu Got What I Nee-eed, But You Say He's Just a Friend...

You've got Biz Markie's painfully tone-deaf voice stuck in your head now, don't you? Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Happy Monday, everyone. Melissa here, and as you know, we've been debating whether or not guys and girls can be just friends. So far, the consensus seems to be no, but I'd like to offer some anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you my friend Derick. (Not to be confused with this Derek, my first boyfriend.)

For the record, I don't remember "the good 'ol birthday incident."
For the last two years of high school, Derick and I were next-door neighbors in Munich, Germany, where both our dads were stationed. Derick was one of the first teens to introduce himself when I moved in, and I remember thinking how cool he was. He wore black clothes and listened to alternative music long before it was stylish, and he had a wicked sense of humor. He was even in a band! Isn't that the litmus test for cool? So when he said "hey" and reached into his back pocket to hand me a random piece of candy he'd been sitting on all day, I knew we'd be friends.

Derick and Shannon, another friend who was just a friend.

Derick and I weren't joined at the hip--he had his bestie and I had mine--but we hung out, chatted a lot, and in general, had fun. Silly, silly fun.

No high school experience is complete without a good old fashioned panty raid.

So when senior homecoming rolled around and I found myself in between boyfriends, (read: I didn't have a date), Derick kindly offered to take me to the dance. As friends. And you know what? We had a great time.

Derick was a total gentleman. After the dance, when we all went downtown to party, he refused to let me have more than a sip of the massive (and potent) group drink my friends had ordered. He said, "I promised your parents I'd bring you back safely. I'm responsible for you, and I'm not going to take you home drunk." How mature is that??? When he walked me to my door at the end of the evening, he gave me a (very nice) kiss, and the next day at school, we went back to our normal routine. Zero weirdness, zero resentment, zero jealousy. Just friends.

Oh, yeah. We had some BITCHIN' hair, baby!

Derick and I are still friends, albeit from a distance. He's living in New York with his two gorgeous daughters, and he's still super cool. In fact, he just finished his first independent film project!

I asked Derick if he'd share a brief memory of our "just friends date," and he was happy to oblige. What a guy, huh? Here's what he had to say:

Derick: Melissa and I always had a great vibe as friends, and that vibe translated to our pulling off going to a high school homecoming dance together - as dates - but without the crazy boy/girl drama commonly associated with high school hormones. I remember it being really fun, and thinking that Melissa looked fantastic (which was evident in the glares shot my way by most of the football team!), but it was also low pressure: we were friends, and enjoyed great banter together. The thing I think that was especially cool about it was that I think the people around us understood and supported that (with the possible exception of the guys on the football team), and nobody made a big deal of the fact that we decided to do things our own way, on our own terms.

Melissa: Thanks so much, Derick. Rock on, my friend!


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!

A reminder that Melissa will be at the RT Booklovers Convention (April 10-15) with Carey, Lorie, and Lea. Make sure to say hello!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Stephanie Thomas Talks about Setting Boundaries with Boys-Who-Happen-to-be-Friends


Third grade recess at Catholic school was more of a chore than it was recess. I remember, the first time I entered into Catholic school from a public school, I was confused as to why, during recess, the boys were separated from the girls. At my school, this was the “norm” until seventh grade, when you were allowed to co-mingle. 
But, back to third grade. This segregation was particularly upsetting for me because as a girl, I was more prone to make friends who were boys than I was to making girl friends. I would have much rather been rough and tumble with the boys than play pretty, pretty dollies with the girls -- it was the tomboy in me. As I grew up, this never changed. I still much rather hang out with the guys than I do the girls. It’s just who I am. I can have a ton of guy friends, but only ever latch on to a handful of girl friends. 

When I got into high school, I found that being a friend to boys was a little more complicated than it was when I was in grade school. Feelings became mixed up and indistinguishable from each other. Did I like this guy as a friend, or was I crushing on him? At one point, I bounced around from boyfriend to boyfriend because my friends-who-were-boys would want to be boyfriends, and I’d go along with it only to find out that they really weren’t “boyfriend” material to me in the first place. They were only ever just friends...who were boys. 

In a way, the confusion really messed with my heart and my mind, and the hearts and minds of my many “boyfriends.” I didn’t learn until about my Junior year what qualified as being a boyfriend and what qualified as a boy being stuck in the “we’re just friends” category. For example, I learned quickly that at some point, the friends-who-were-boys but thought they were my boyfriends? Well, they wanted more from my friendship than just a normal friend would. It didn’t take long before I realized that I really needed to set my boundaries with my friends-who-were-boys so that they knew that they were just that -- friends who also happened to be boys. 
As I continue to write The Raven Chronicles, I am also testing the boundaries between boys who are friends, and boyfriends. My heroine, Beatrice, has a best friend, Gabe, who might even be a little more than that. They’ve grown up around each other for most of their lives, and to say they know each other well would be an understatement. But friendship starts to blossom into something more, and as the author, I have had to push Beatrice to her limits to discover what it is she actually wants from her relationship from Gabe. Does she want him to be the friend-who-is-also-a-boy, or does she want him to be the boyfriend? I won’t give you the answer to that, since you’ll have to read LUMINOSITY to find out...but I will say, it’s not an easy call to make. Not in books or in real life. 
My advice to those who are in this dilemma would be to make sure you’ve set your boundaries, and that you know what you are looking for. Do you really want your boy-who-is-also-a-friend to be more than that to you? Or are you comfortable enough with they being a constant who is always by your side? 

~Stephanie

Stephanie Thomas has been writing ever since she could put letters together to form words. When she was a small child, she would present her mother and father with self-made newspapers filled up with make believe stories and pictures. Her love for writing followed her all throughout her schooling, where she entered and won writing contests of all sorts. Stephanie decided to become an English teacher and completed her B.A. at The Pennsylvania State University. While teaching, she later went on to get her Master’s in writing from The Johns Hopkins University. She completed her very first manuscript during her graduate studies, and by the end of the program, she had completed two more. 

Stephanie is quick to tell anyone that she’s a born and raised Philadelphian, and her heart will always belong there. She moved to Baltimore with her husband, and they’ve been living there for the last five years with their doggie, Sailor, and their rabbit, Buns (aka “T Sizzle”).

To learn more, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Her book, LUMINOSITY, the first installment in The Raven Chronicles can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t been the same since. 

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me. 

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win.

So here's where we throw it out to you, faithful readers: When do you think such a call should be made? When does a friend-who-is-also-a-boy suddenly become your boyfriend? And do you think it could ever be successful? 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Cross-sex BFF Relationship Equation

No offense to my dear friend, Lea, but this topic—Boyfriends or, Friends who Happen to be Boysbegs a PSA.


Attention Readers: This is a public service announcement. Teens are egocentric. Once the hormones kick in, boys and girls cannot be best friends without mitigating circumstances. Those crazy, uncontrollable feelings are always lurking under the surface. Sexuality and self-worth intermingle with the intimacy of the BFF relationship making it nearly impossible to remain platonic. Someone always develops feelings, someone always gets hurt. Let’s examine the Cross-sex BFF Relationship Equation (which I swear is a real thing that I didn’t just make up):
Boy-Girl Teen BBFs = Intimacy + Self-worth + Sexuality =L♥VE

I’m not saying boys and girls can’t be friends.  Friends—yes; Best Friends—no way José.

Even when grown, many adults are platonically challenged when it comes to friendship with the opposite sex. As we become less egocentric later in life, and if our sources of self-worth and sexuality are cultivated outside the intimacy of the BFF relationship, platonic cross-sex besties may be achieved.

(Side note: I think that’s why the concept of the gay best friend is so popular, because sexuality is removed from the Cross-Sex BFF Relationship Equation. But even then, one party may be susceptible to thinking they can “turn” the other. Give it up! They’re gay—not a potential vampire.)

Let’s examine some of the better known boy-girl BFF relationships entertainment has to offer:

HarrySallyDefinitive chick flick on the implausibility of boy-girl besties. Unequivocally proves the Cross-sex BFF Relationship Equation.
Bella JacobJacob's masochistic "friendship" with Bella sends him into an angst-ridden doom spiral until he fixates on Bella's offspring in a twist creepier than Wuthering Heights second generation redemption.
LukeLeiaDoesn't count - *spoiler alert* they're related.
HanLeiaNever friends. The pent up passion behind their bickering was evident the first time she called him a Scruffy Nerf-Herder.
Anakin AmidalaWhat the dark side wants, the dark side gets - and the dark side likes the cougars.
JaneBillyBFF Billy confessed his love for Janie at the end of season one's Jane by Design. Their friendship is so screwed!
VelmaShaggyFriends - yes; Playing for each other's team - no.
BuffyXanderXander's unrequited friendship with buffy drove him into a monogamous relationship with Anya - that's seriously messed up.
BuffySpikeSpeaking of messed up - WTF?!?
KeithWattsIt's not Some Kind of Wonderful for Watts when Keith keeps her in the friend zone.
Emma KnightlyThou art wise in the ways of friendship and boys, Jane.
ZackMiriToo bad it takes a porno to make these besties see their platonic arrangement blows.
Harry PotterHermoineOkay - I'll grant this one. Smitten with funny guy Ron, Hermione's true blue to H.P. without the secret romantic agenda.
DawsonJoeyEven though Joey didn't end up on the creek w/her BFF Dawson, it wasn't for lack of trying.
KatnissGaleNot platonic by any district's definition.
AndieDuckieA second instance of BFFs without romantic undertones. But I always wanted Andie to go for Duckie - he was so much better than Blane!!!


If you suspect you're suffering from the Cross-sex BFF Relationship Equation, turn off your television immediately and take this quiz:
Your Turn: What are some other examples of Boy-Girl Besties that either confirm of disprove  the Cross-sex BFF Relationship Equation?
Carey
 I will be at the RT Booklovers Convention (April 10-15) with Lea, Lorie, and Melissa.

The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, a 2010 RWA Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction, is available at Amazon   Barnes & Noble Smashwords and iTunes. Also available and *free* The Way Life Was Forever; and coming soon Eternal Spring (a YA anthology). Visit www.careycorp.com for more information.