Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Blog Swap with Barbara Ehrentreu

It's my pleasure to welcome fellow MuseItUp author

Barbara Ehrentreu  who has brought along her main character, Carolyn, to talk about the YA novel in which she appears called,

'If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor'.                                


Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?


I spot him walking toward my locker with a small box in one hand and a plastic fork in the other. My Crush! He hands me the box, and I open it. Inside is a piece of luscious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I look up into his blue eyes and give him the box so I can touch his cheek as I smooth his dark hair.
“You always know just what I like.”
He smiles and feeds me a forkful of cake. I don’t have to worry about eating it because I can eat anything I want and not gain weight. He places the cake box in my locker so he can put his arms around me. The first bell rings in my ears. I ignore it because I’m thin and blonde and floating in the arms of my dark-haired crush. The other cheerleaders run up to us laughing and kidding around, and I’m about to speak. The ringing gets louder.
The dream evaporates, and I realize it’s the darn alarm piercing my sleep. Slamming my fist onto the Snooze button, I get this nagging feeling. Then I remember. I have something to do. Worse luck, I have to do it, not as the slender blonde beauty in my dream, but as the real Carolyn Samuels with my brown curly hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti, mud brown eyes, and a body too large for fashion. I see my new book bag is packed and ready by the door with the initials C. S. in blue, my favorite color. Suddenly it hits me, and I get this dizzy let-me-plop-on-the-pillow feeling. Freshman year of high school—first day. My brain is ready, but my body isn't. Jennifer will be there. Math class and Jennifer; gym class with Jennifer. My body curls into a fetal position, and I throw the covers over my head. Don’t faint Carolyn, I tell myself, panting.

Dangling over the chair are those size twelve jeans, clown pants—hardly a fashion statement. I groan. Paired with the red long-sleeved T-shirt, they looked so good on the mannequin; I’ll look like a stop light. What was I thinking? How could I possibly go to school looking like such a freak?

Actually, the real reason I can’t go is Jennifer, with her long straight blonde hair, perfect body, and clothes from magazines like Teen and Seventeen.

Yuck. I feel sick, sick with Jenniferitis.

I hear Mom's footsteps on the stairs.

"Why are you still in bed?" She comes upstairs and peeks into my room with a puzzled look on her face

Moving the blanket up to my nose, I say, "Mom, I can't stop shivering, and my stomach and head hurt.” She feels my head and looks at me with mother vision. "Carolyn, did you think I'd fall for your tricks?" I cringe. Now my stomach and head ache for real. Defeated, I climb out of bed and get washed. I slip the hated outfit onto my body and glance at my bloated reflection in the mirror. It's too late to change. I’m stuck with this. If only I could be like Jennifer Taylor. After picking up my book bag, I race down the stairs, take a couple of bites of a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin and a few sips of non-fat milk. I almost trip over a lump blocking the door. Max, our five-year old Newfoundland raises his massive bear-like head, sniffing like he’s never eaten a thing in his life when he sees my muffin. I glance at his empty bowl and throw the rest of the muffin into it. He sees it and licks my face; now I’m going to smell like dog food all day. Grabbing a paper towel, I wipe my face and lean to ruffle his soft fur. At least Max doesn’t care what I wear. Feed him and rub him under his chin, and he’ll cover you with slurpy kisses. Mom is already in our three-year-old silver Malibu that, like my jeans, doesn't quite make a fashion statement. On the drive to school, I'm looking forward to seeing Becky and Janie my two best friends from forever. Don't want to see Jennifer's face on the first day of high school.

  Barbara interviews her main character, Carolyn Samuels, from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor.
Carolyn, would you please tell us a little about yourself?
There’s not much to tell. I live in Mill Valley, which is in Westchester, NY and I attend Mill Valley High School. My best friends are Becky and Janie and I love Math. Oh, yeah, I have a Newfoundland dog named Max and my favorite cookie is chocolate chocolate chip homemade by my mom. My mom works for an ad agency in the city. That’s what New Yorkers call New York City. My dad is a criminal lawyer. I’m an only child, but you couldn’t ask for better parents. Except they don’t pay much attention to me.

On the surface it looks like you have a great life. Why, then did you come to me one day crying and telling me you hated Jennifer Taylor and she made your life miserable? Who is Jennifer Taylor and why do you hate her?
Jennifer Taylor has made my life a living nightmare since middle school. I call her Miss Perfect, because she is a size two and her father owns half the town. She’s on the path to be an Olympic gymnast so she’s excellent in gym. Jennifer is the most popular girl in the freshman class. I think she knows everyone in the class. And to top it all off she has this hot boyfriend, Brad, who is a Junior and the quarterback for our football team. He’s so amazing and I don’t think she deserves to be with him. Okay, maybe I have a crush on Brad myself.
What happened last year on the first day of school?

I’m not sure I can talk about this, because it brings back awful memories. Do you want me to go all the way back to the rope line incident? I mean that’s what started all this.

Yes, tell us as much as you can.
Well, I got up on the first day of school after having this incredible dream where I was popular and a cheerleader and my boyfriend fed me a piece of chocolate cake because I was thin and blonde and didn’t gain weight. Of course the truth is I am a little overweight and my hair is dark brown and hangs like shriveled spaghetti. But still this was a great dream, wouldn’t you agree? I wanted to stay in bed, because when my alarm rang I realized I might run into Jennifer Taylor. 

You see I hate her and I also want to be like her. It’s awful and here’s how it started. When I was in seventh grade we did the ropes course. One part of it , the zip line, required you to climb up to this platform and you were given a harness. When you got up there you had to clasp yourself to the line and then you could slide down. A few people went in front of me and then of course, Jennifer did it perfectly. When my turn came I froze. Then I started breathing funny, because I have this thing. I hyperventilate when I’m nervous and that day I started turning blue. If I can’t start breathing I can faint. I started feeling dizzy and couldn’t clasp myself onto the zip line. Jennifer was on the ground and saw me. The teacher saw me too and raced up the ladder to the platform. She said to me, “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then Jennifer started saying too and soon all the kids who had been on the line echoed her. As I came down the ladder I wanted a big hole to open up and swallow me. So then Jennifer started bothering me at odd times every day. She’d sneak up and say “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Or she would whisper it in class when I had to go up to the board. We were in Math class together and I started to dread it. So when I was in her Math class again and the teacher put us together as partners I didn’t know how I could stand it.

What happened?
Well the first day of school after being pushed together with her for a Math project I was put in front of her in line for gym. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I didn’t want to be anywhere near Jennifer and I started hyperventilating until I fainted. I guess that’s when I got connected to Jennifer in a much more serious way.

Oh, my goodness, your story has more to it?
Oh yes, I learned way too much about Jennifer and wound up holding her secrets for a long time. I mean, I did meet Brad and well, I don’t think I can say anymore. This is all really painful to talk about, you know?
 I guess if you want to learn more about what happened that year you will have to read the book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor from MuseItUp Publishing in print or as an ebook.

Thank you, Wendy, for hosting us today.
My pleasure, Carolyn. I know talking about these things is hard for you, but you did very well.

Wendy: Well that was an interesting interview. Thank you Barbara and Carolyn. It is clear Carolyn has been most forthcoming with her author. Sometimes when we stand back and listen we learn much more than if we probe.

BTW, in this BLOG SWAP, YA Author, Barbara Ehrentreu, is hosting me on her blog, Barbara's Meanderings , today, where I talk about my YA novel, 'The Unhewn Stone', set in medieval Switzerland.


Penny's Tales said...

Hi Barbara. Great post! I have read your story and it is a terrific read! I would surely recommend it!

Wendy said...

Hi Penny, thank you for dropping by. It's wonderful when readers can recommend a 'terrific read'. Barbara will be thrilled to hear this. :)

Karen Cote said...

Hi Wendy! Hi Barbara! So cool to see you both hosting each other. Great excerpt and interview

Love you both.

Wendy said...

It's wonderful to have your support, Karen. Thank you!

Lorrie said...

Great interview and blurb. Lots of luck with the sales. Looks like a winner to me.

lionmother said...

Thank you for hosting me and Carolyn!! We are both thrilled to be here. Thank you too, to Karen, Penny and Lorrie for your wonderful comments. Wendy, hosting you has been a wonderful experience! It's the closest to Australia I have ever come!!

Rosalie Skinner said...

Hi Wendy, Barbara, Carolyn... what a great blog swap idea and terrific interview with you Carolyn. Don't worry, your privacy is assured. :)
Good to see you this close to Australia Barbara. Pity we couldn't put on better weather, but look at those humpback whales play. The whales are our compensation for 'cold' weather. Ok, it's not snowing or anything, but to us, this is winter!!

Wendy said...

It's a pleasure to be part of the swap, Barbara. Glad you thought of it.

Hi Rosalie, thanks for coming. I missed the whale trek uo the coast. I'll have to wait for their return journey.

J Q Rose said...

I'm in the middle of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and enjoying it so much. Brings back those school days...oh the torture of teen years...Entertaining post.

lionmother said...

Rosalie, I can see the whales playing in the waves, though I am shivering a little. It's almost summer where I am and though June has been rainy and gray, you can still go out without a coat:)

I love blog swaps, because everyone gets to see a little bit of each author and you kind of slip into the blog for a little while. By the way, Wendy, Carolyn says she loved seeing the whales! Did you like seeing the egrets and the swans? I hope you took a walk on the boardwalk too.

JQ, so happy you are enjoying the book! Carolyn is jumping up and down and doing cheers. Teenagers have so much energy!! I hope you will add your review to my page when you're done.:) I still have to finish your book and promise will do soon.

Wendy, thank you again and thank you everyone else for going back and forth with our blog switch. You are all the best!!

Wendy said...

Hi Lorrie, Barbara's book sure does sound like a winner. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you for stopping by.

Janet, your comment is music to an author's ears. Barbara must be thrilled to hear how much you are enjoying her book.

Well this has been fun and a great opportunity for Barbara and I to promote our YA novels on each other's blog at the same time. Thank you everyone.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Wonderful interview, Barbara and Wendy. This book sounds wonderful, and I do plan on reading it as soon as I can. It already touches a cord.