Monday, April 29, 2013

Bad Advice and Big Horses

Here at Honestly YA we decide on blog topics well in advance, so I’ve had a while to ponder the question of what divides bad advice from the worst advice. My conclusion is one that is mine alone. It’s not the result of a scientific study, a Gallup poll or even a survey monkey questionnaire. Like I said, it’s MINE. And this is what I figure: the worst advice ever is the advice that changes who you are deep inside. Advice that creates a dent in your personality that defines the rest of your life. Naturally, this advice comes from your mother.

Okay, not your mother -- because this isn’t your story. This is my story. Hence, my mother.

Mom had a repertoire of favored phrases she liked to employ as I grew up.  There were a lot of things classified as “the last thing I need,” the constant admonition “you’d better marry rich,” and the perennial “this place is a pig sty”. But they weren’t necessarily advice. No. Mom’s advice, delivered sternly and with a scowl, was “Don’t get up on your high horse.”

As a kid - I mean, a real and true kid in the single digits of her life- this was the image her advice created:

photo credit: Pickersgill Reff

well of course I wasn’t going to get up on any high horse. Duh. They were way too big for me. But eventually the understanding kicked in, the realization that she wasn’t advising me to select a size-appropriate steed but was instead telling me my complaints, concerns and feelings of offense made me conceited.

My most vivid recollection of the high horse speech - so you have a nice example - took place late high school, when I’d been approved for a vacation at my job and then told the approval may be revoked. I made the mistake (in retrospect) of telling my mother that having my vacation revoked wasn’t fair. I was told (sternly) not to get up on my high horse.

All right, so in the retelling the episode even makes me shrug and say “yeah, and? big deal.” But remember, I’d been living my whole life with that advice. It’s a message drilled into my brain over and over and over. And this is what it taught me:

I am not worthy. I am not of value enough to deserve fair treatment. I am lesser.

I learned it was better to keep quiet than speak up for myself. And that was a bad, dangerous lesson to learn. It has made me a person who is by turns humble and arrogant - which I know sounds pretty contradictory. But what happens is I take a lot of crap, I make excuses for the people around me, and I keep a lot to myself, and all those moments that I swallow back my desire to stand up for myself build and build until I blow. And that, my friends, is a terrible ugly thing.

Sadly, knowing these things about myself does not help change anything. Being able to identify where the problem stems from does not suddenly give me the skill to judge when I should speak up and when I should remain quiet.

In retrospect, I think a great number of events in my life would have gone much better if my lifelong view of a “high” horse was more like this:


 a horse with the ability to navigate obstacles with ease and elegance. Or, you know, at least to make it look easy and elegant. But that would have required a far different admonition than "don't get up on your high horse," wouldn't it?

I can’t change my entire past. I can’t change the words I grew up with. I can’t even afford therapy to recover. Frankly, I don’t know if I can ever change all those ingrained lessons in silence. But I have, at least, come to realize that it was more than bad advice. It was the worst.

So I'm thinking if there's a take away idea to be had from this story it's this: sometimes bad advice is easy to spot, sometimes it comes disguised as good advice, sometimes it comes disguised as a reprimand. But under no circumstances are you required to follow it -- especially if the advice in question erodes your self confidence or makes you think you don't deserve to be treated fairly or nicely or with respect.

Oh! But there is a plus side to all this! My daughters? yeah, they've never been warned about high horses, for which I am exceedingly proud (even if such emotion does indeed put me on a super-size steed; in this case, it's worth it).

~Jen McA

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DOON Cover Reveal and Exclusive Excerpt!

 On Tuesday, the wonderful ladies at YA Books Central revealed our epically gorgeous cover, and to celebrate, we offered a signed ARC and custom charm bracelet for one lucky winner ---> Enter here <--- But since we love our Honest readers so much, today we’re doing an *exclusive excerpt* from the book…Yep, that’s right, you can read it here first!

But for now, here's a look at what our publisher created for us:

Magnificent, aye?

We are crazy in love with it! The bridge signifying the beginning of a journey, the mysterious fog, the castle in the distance telling the reader this is a modern day fairytale, and that dress…Oh, that DRESS!

And here’s a wee taste of Doon
     As we entered the village proper, the sidewalks teemed with people. Storeowners
 propped open doors to let in the fresh breeze. Residents hurried down the crooked lanes, focused on their destinations but smiling. The torrential rains that had been present since we’d first arrived in Glasglow had finally stopped, leaving behind an iridescent coating that reflected the sun like beveled glass. Every light pole, glossy leaf, and brick storefront sparkled, reminding me of something from Narnia.

     We followed a curve in the road, and a hint of fresh-brewed coffee wafted through the air to settle on my taste buds.
     “Poet’s Corner should be just ahead.” Kenna tucked a strand of crimson hair behind her ear and pointed down the street. She’d wanted to stop in town before heading to the cottage so we could visit her favorite coffee shop. She claimed they had the best cinnamon hot chocolate on the planet.
     Walking down this beautiful street with my BFF by my side, an entire summer in Scotland stretching before us, I had to suppress the urge to dance. And, as if to make the moment even more perfect, a tall, well-built boy wearing a kilt strode toward me. I noted the dark-blond waves of his hair, broad cheekbones, and strong nose. He radiated restless power. Wow. He was beyond gorgeous.
     He drew closer, his gaze never leaving my face, and his mouth slid into a slow smile.
     As he passed, his dark eyes bored into mine, and I tripped over a bump in the sidewalk. Recognition clicked into place and my heart cartwheeled into my throat. It was him—the boy who stood outside my car the day Eric and I broke up! What was he doing here?
     I regained my balance, spun around, and almost slammed into an old lady. Apologizing, I stepped around her and searched the people on the sidewalk—a tall man in a knit cap, a young mother with two small children, a short middle-aged man grinning at me, but no beautiful boy in a kilt … anywhere.
     Kenna walked up beside me and touched my arm, but I couldn’t speak. What were the chances of him being in Bainbridge, Indiana and now in Alloway, Scotland? And what was with the vanishing act?
    “Ken, did you see where that hot guy in the kilt went?” I searched the other side of the street.
     “Um … what?” I met Kenna’s wide gray eyes, her brows arched in surprise.
     “Come on, you couldn’t miss him. Tall, blond, gorgeous—”
     She was shaking her head in denial before I even finished. “I haven’t seen anyone in a kilt, let alone a hot boy. And believe me, I’ve been looking.”
     I blinked several times as if recalibrating my eyes. I was totally losing it. Pain throbbed through my head and I paused to massage my temples.
    “Are you okay?” Kenna waited patiently for me to finish.
    Had I imagined him? Again? Maybe it was jetlag—or a brain tumor. Or maybe he had followed me from Bainbridge. Then why did he keep evaporating into thin air? Just like the handkerchief in the parking lot. I kept my eyes closed for several seconds, struggling to gain control, before opening them and focusing on my friend’s concerned face. “Just tired. I could really use some caffeine right now.”

For more of DOON don’t forget to visit our cover reveal post on YABC (linked at the top of this page) and enter to win a signed ARC and Doonian charm bracelet before time runs out!

Oh, and we'd love it if you'd add DOON to your Goodreads shelf!

Thanks for letting us share with you all,

Lorie & Carey

Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon are the co-writers of DOONBrigadoon reimagined. Book 1 coming 8/20/13 from the new YA imprint BLINK (a division of Zondervan/HarperCollins)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: Laura Bickle's Worst Advice. And Lots of Cats.

The Worst Advice I Ever Received
By Laura Bickle

Hands-down, the worst advice I’ve ever received is this little gem: “You don’t need any more cats.”


There were cats in my life off and on, when I was a child. My mother would let her cat, Sam, sleep in my crib when I was a baby. Consequently, the purring of a cat is the greatest sound in the world to me. I am certain that Sam whispered into my ear what was expected to me later in life, in my role as Cat Servant.

Cats have come and gone in our house. They always turn up. Some have stayed for a short period of time, as I’ve been successful in fobbing them off on friends and relatives. Others have stayed, due to circumstance or luck. There are, sadly, a whole lot of homeless animals out there. And they seem to find us, like they have little antennae strapped to their heads, searching for the Mother Ship.

Our most recent acquisition, Gibby, came by last August. He was a skinny tomcat, all beaten up from getting in fights (and clearly not being very successful at it). He was clearly a tame cat – he approached my husband as he was leaving the house for work and howled at the top of his lungs for food. We fed him, and he decided to make our back porch his home. My husband named him “Gibby,” after a favorite baseball player. He loved to be petted and sit on our laps. When I’d stretch out in a chair, he’d crawl on my chest and fall asleep. I felt around his neck and found scabs from where he’d been in fights. There was a sore lump on his ribs, where I could only guess that someone had kicked him. He had clearly been someone’s pet, and he desperately wanted a home. He would sit on our back step and meow at the door.

He wanted IN.

Poor guy was skin and bones. Gibby was clearly a massive cat, but starved. He began to plump up, and we frantically began searching for a home for him. One of my husband’s co-workers was amenable to accepting another barn cat, so we took him into the vet to be neutered and checked over before we took him to his new rural life.

Gibby, unfortunately, tested positive for FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. In good conscience, we couldn’t turn him loose on a population of barn cats. Nor were we able to find an indoor adoptive home for him. I contacted every rescue organization that I could find, fully aware that he was going to be a tough adoption. And we had no luck.

Since we already had FIV-positive cats, we decided that fate intended for us to keep him. Our other cats with FIV have been with us, asymptomatic, since 2003. I am hopeful that Gibby will have the same experience of a long, happy, healthy life.

During this time, I received all kinds of unhelpful advice, mostly from relatives. It boiled down to: “You don’t need another cat.”

Probably not. We already had five cats, and Gibby would be the sixth. I spend a whole lotta time scooping cat litter, washing dishes, and keeping track of vet appointments and medications.

But you know what? He needed a couple of humans. We had the room. The bed gets a bit crowded with our current crew of cats. But, as any cat owner knows, cats can defy the rules of physics and squeeze in.

And as Gibby snuggled up to us and began to fill out, we realized that we did need him, after all. We needed him to stretch out on the couch while we watch television, to sit in the co-pilot’s chair while my husband plays video games. We needed him to sit in the windowsill and trill at those scary squirrels outside. He’s needed to hold down the quilt at the edge of our bed. And he definitely is needed to cuddle when we have bad days at work. And I love to listen to him purr when I put my head on his chest. The most soothing sound in the world, that is. Like coming home.
So, to all the folks who say we didn’t need another cat:  No one can ever know what anyone else needs.

- Laura Bickle

Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams). Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six cats. THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. For more information about Laura’s work, please visit her website at

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

Monday, April 22, 2013


We all know them, those people who think it’s their purpose on earth to direct the lives of others—to suck the life out of our “impractical” dreams with logic and statistics. They have the best intentions. But they can’t seem to stop themselves from painting the worst case scenario. And if we aren’t careful, their doomsday predictions will cause us to veer off the path we know in our hearts we are meant to take.  

To understand my Dream Killer experience, let’s take a quick peek into the past…

Story telling is in my blood. Even as a little girl, the dramas I created for Barbie and Ken would take days to act out—and usually involve the evil Donny and Marie twins, a mischievous Holly Hobby and a gaggle of Smurf secondary characters.

But it wasn’t until I discovered reading fiction that my obsessive affair with words began. I would spend hours upon hours in my room with Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, L. Frank Baum, Laura Ingalls Wilder and more. I still remember the intense excitement of discovering a new book at the local library and running all the way home so I could devour it like a pint of triple chocolate ice cream.

So it was no surprise to anyone that, like my hero Lois Lane, I chose journalism as my major in college. It wasn’t fiction, but at that time writing my own novels hadn’t even entered my mind. I imagined myself as an investigative reporter, chasing the facts that would make a good story, great!

At the beginning of my junior year, I was well on my way to my dream job, when a “well-intentioned” professor sat me down and gave me the talk. You know the one: “You’ll never make any money writing for a newspaper. It’s pure grunt work, writing stories about old women who take in stray cats. It’s a waste of your talent.” “The hours are horrible – don’t you want to have a family some day?” And then the clincher: “What you really need to do is broadcast journalism. With your looks, you could get a job at a big network!”

Ah hello, introvert here. Just reading aloud in front of the class made me hyperventilate. Sure, I wanted adventure, but behind the scenes. Not in front of a camera where hundreds of thousands of people could scrutinize my every move! But I also didn’t want to write uninteresting stories for no money and work crazy hours. So, I went to my guidance counselor and changed my major to the uber-practical Sociology with an emphasis in Human Resources.

Since I’ve been pursuing writing as a career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “That’s nice that you write books, but the chances of anything you write being in a bookstore is astronomically low.” Or something similar. Wrong, sir WRONG!

If you have a dream, no matter how impractical or unrealistic, you do everything within your power to pursue it. You work towards that goal every single day until you accomplish it. I’m not saying it will be easy or there won’t be times you want to give up, (or throw your computer through a window. Just sayin’) but don’t you dare listen to the Dream Killers out there who want you to fit their mold of success!

And yes, my debut novel, DOON, will be hitting *bookstore shelves everywhere* August 20th of this year. :-D

Take that, you Dream Killers

How about you Honest Reader? Tell me about your Dream Killer experiences...


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

 P.S. Stop back this Thursday for the official DOON cover reveal and giveaway! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

More of Model Mark Perini's Pretty Mind #prettymindsread

Last week was my turn to play 20 questions with our actor/model buddy Mark Perini. This week is—mostly—your turn. Let's see what you came up with. (If you missed part 1 of Mark's interview, catch it here.)

Q: Melissa wants to know, “Did PJ Rappa get in trouble, too?”

MP: I didn’t rat PJ Rappa out. I took all the blame but it wasn’t so bad because I was completely oblivious and I think it was on my face because I was under the impression it was a good thing. 

Me: I bet that angelic face has saved you more than once, Mark.

Q: Lea snorted when she read your interview. Do you ever snort when you laugh?

MP: I’ve never snorted a day in my life.

Q: Carey wonders, “You might look like superman, but can you really fly?”

MP: I’ve gone skydiving twice does that count? 

Me: How Clark Kent of you to deny it with misdirection. Fortunately, I have proof!

This man of steel is also freakishly strong ... like the Incredible Hulk!

Q: Lorie said your interview made her day? What makes your day, Mark?

MP: I think mornings are vitally important. You wake up well rested, listen to some awesome music,  the Barista at Starbucks actually puts the Half & Half in your iced coffee and not just directs you to the serving cart around the corner, the subway arrives as soon as you get down the stairs, actually having some time to read/write for myself. I would say any or all of that would make my day.

Q: Julie would like to know if you can raise your hand. (Please demonstrate.)

MP: Of course! I’m writing this answer with only my left hand because my right hand is in the sky.

Me: Pssst Julie - Mark agrees with your ploy. It’s posted on the internet, and therefore irrefutable!

Q: Cecy wants to know, “Mark, what's your favorite Ben & Jerry's ice cream?”

MP: Hands down it’s “Half Baked”
Me: Yuuuuuuuuummmmm! Wait, did you say baked or dressed? Nevermind, moving on…

Q: Sonya told a funny anecdote about lion taming. Have you ever been a lion tamer? Would you ever consider being a lion tamer?

MP: Never had the pleasure of being a lion tamer although I was a camp councilor for a summer and I think there are a lot of similarities there.  I would for sure consider being a lion tamer, however, I’m pretty allergic to cats. Do you think it would carry over? 

Q: Carey asks, “What’s the best April Fool’s joke you’ve ever played on someone?”

MP: I’m not big on practical jokes but when I was in college I went over to my friend’s apartment after I had been working and I was so tired and hungry and he goes, ”Hey man can you stop by for a second I need help moving something?” So I said, “Yeah no problem.” I get to the apartment and my friend was like, “I just made all these candy apples, Do you want one before we move this furniture?” And at this point I’m starving. So I grab the biggest one on the table and take this huge bite…And it was an onion. Hahahaha…I was so disappointed. 

Me: Awwww … that story made me a little bit frowny face!

Q: Tonya wants to know, “What’s the cinnamon challenge?”

MP: The cinnamon challenge is where you take a table spoon full of cinnamon and try to swallow it without any water. It sounds easy and I thought it would be, however, it instantly dries up your mouth and you can’t swallow any of it. It’s awful. Afterwards you taste cinnamon in your throat for days. I dare you guys to try it! Send videos!

Q: Pintip would like to know, “What do you find hilarious?”

MP: I think Will Ferrell is hilarious. I love improv, but more specifically I love dry humor. I think it’s a real skill to be able to keep a straight face when you are doing/saying something that is hilarious.  

Q: Cassidy asks, “What’s your biggest pet peeve?”

MP: Being passive aggressive. 

Q: Carey would like to know, “How do you look in a kilt and broadsword?”

MP: I look like a proper Scotsmen. 


Q: Shea Berkley asks, “I've got a question that’s more out of curiosity than anything I could ever use in one of my stories. What is the oddest and/or most uncomfortable (physically or mentally) pose a photographer wanted you to use?”

MP: I once did a test (which is a free job for your portfolio and for the photographer’s portfolio) when I first started modeling where I had on a swimming cap, a trench coat, a Speedo, and Doc Martins, I believe. Needless to say any pose in such an outfit was humiliating, not to mention we were on top of a roof in NYC. Never saw those pictures and I don’t think I ever want to. 

 ME: Agreed! Sorry my little versatile Valentino, not even you could pull that look off. Unlike these looks ...
Vintage and Vampire ... coming to a store near you.

 Q: An anonymous reader would like to know, “Which term of endearment do you prefer more? A. My dolce, dolce gabbana boy, B. Abercrombie Adonis, or C. haute couture hottie?”

MP: Haute couture hottie has a nice ring to it.

Q: And finally, Carey asks, “Have you ever had more virtual fun than your time with Honestly YA?” (hint: Mark, it’s a trick question.)

MP: I think it’s impossible to have more virtual fun. Thank you Honestly YA for having me! Let me know if you every want me back! 

ME: Any time, Mark. We’d love to LOVE you—I mean HAVE you—I mean, aw screw it!—You’re AWESOME, my little haute couture hottie!!! 

And now … the debut of Mark Perini’s #prettymindsread pic. *drum roll*

Mark Perini has been an international Model for the past 8 years the last 4 he’s been a Ford Model, He’s a Freelance Writer and Blogger, a UCB Improviser and an actor. He attended Seton Hall University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Spanish. (A smart model?)

Mark lives in New York City on the Upper East Side. On a typical day you can see him around the city shooting editorials and catalogs, attending auditions and castings, performing with his improv team Big Make Me, or sipping an iced coffee while writing in Starbucks. Mark’s even been known to jet set around the world from time to time. His most recent travels led him to Jordan, Egypt and Italy (part of the book, Halfway Perfect, was written at Parco Sempione in Milan). 3 Wonders of the World down, 4 more to go.

Until next time!

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

 Join the DOON journey: