Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolutions and Goals and Overcoming Fear.

I love the New Year. Each year is like a time capsule, a moment in space and time marked by people, events, animals, emotions. Some are better than others. Some are marked by tragedy. Some marked by joy. Most marked by a little of both.

Chelsea Rose, Me, and Druid, aka "Little Man". Both are old-style Morgan horses.

Because I love resolutions and goals, I'm going to put them here. Maybe we can cheer each other on as we try and do simple or complex things in our lives.

So without further ado - my resolutions and goals:
  1. Work with my horses, regularly, like once a week. This year, I think I was on a horse's back all of three times. I had a bad wreck in the fall of 2009 and have had horsey PTSD since. Plus the two guys pictured above are youngsters. I've started the bay, Chelsea, but have not ridden her out at all and the chestnut, Druid, has been saddled but I've never thrown a leg over. It's time. He's four. I'm even going to chronicle my progress here - a way to hold myself accountable for not letting fear defeat me when it comes to something I love.  More to come in a future blog post.
  2. Read many books, again. This year I read 85. I don't have a number goal in sight for 2012, but a content goal. I want at least every other book to be either a 2011 or 2012 release. This is difficult for me because most of my financial extra goes toward feeding the guys in goal #1 and our library isn't so current. But I'm going to try, even if it means heading to Asheville to the library there.
  3. Continue to write for 45 minutes to an hour, five to six days per week. Last year this habit served me well, I want to keep it going.
  4. A cheesy one - I really dislike weight loss and exercise goals, but I did put on weight this year and it's threatening to send me clothing shopping for a larger size. Nope. Nipping that one in the bud. Hopefully Goal 1 will help with Goal 4. I know it will.
  5. Be intentional, thoughtful, and loving with my family and students. This goal is always there.
  6. Keep growing and learning in my craft as a writer.
Then of course, along with resolutions, there are dreams. I had a dream realized last year when I signed with my awesome agent. I had another dream realized when I went out on sub - that's right, my manuscript's on the desks of real-live NYC editors. So of course, my dream for this year, is to actually sell a book, to know that something I wrote is going to wind up in the hands of readers. That would make 2012 a real year to remember. (and hey, let's hope the Mayans are wrong - I'd like to stick around to see if my goals pan out!)

And you - any goals or dreams? Fears that stand in your way of doing something you love?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Interview with Mindy Hardwick, author of Stained Glass Summer

As an artist, art teacher, and writer, I'm always interested in books that use the arts thematically. So when I heard about Mindy Hardwick's upcoming middle-grade novel, Stained Glass Summer, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions. I hope you'll take the opportunity to visit her Facebook page and website after stopping in here. And as always - thanks for stopping by!

Tell us briefly about your new book, STAINED GLASS SUMMER.
STAINED GLASS SUMMER is the story of twelve-year old Jasmine who adores her photographer Father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, mentoring five-year-old Sammy, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on island boy, Cole. But, can Jasmine truly let go of her Father and call herself an artist by her own terms?
What led you to use the vehicle of an artistic mentorship to carry your story?  Are you an artist?
I am an artist in terms of writers are artists!  I also work a bit in collage, mixed-media art journaling—but it’s nothing that I show professionally or sell!  Artistic mentorship was something I became interested in during my study at Vermont College. While I was working on my MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults, I was mentored each semester by a different children’s writer including: Lisa Jahn Clough, Sharon Darrow, Liza Ketchum , and Kathi Appelt. After I graduated from Vermont College, I began facilitating a writing workshop with teens in juvenile detention. I also did some mentoring with local high school kids who were working on their final senior projects in writing. I saw how important mentoring was to the creative process. My role as a mentor for young writers feeds so well into writing for tweens and teens. Mentoring is a win/win, and I really encourage other writers to get involved with mentoring.  
You mentioned you took a stained glass course as part of your research for this project.  How was the experience for you?
Frustrating! Geometry has never been my strong suit, and all those measurements and fitting the glass to the pattern was hard for me. But, I do think that taking the class helped in writing the story. Jasmine makes a sun-catcher, just like the one I made in my class, and knowing how the process of stained glass works helped me in the writing of those scenes.   
I noticed on your website that you use art and writing in your work with detention center youth.  How do you think creativity affects young people in general?  How does creativity affect your main character, Jasmine?
Art heals is the motto of Jasmine’s story and also for the kids in detention. Creativity gives kids an outlet to express emotions, ideas, and thoughts that they might not be able to express in words. There is a scene in STAINED GLASS SUMMER where Jasmine is snapping glass and five-year-old Sammy is breaking her crayons. Both girls are expressing their emotions about larger situations which they can’t control—namely that their Fathers have either left or died.  
Jasmine is the child of a photographer, with the desire to be an artist herself.  Does she ever suffer from creative self-doubt? Are there ever moments where she feels like her work just isn’t good enough. I ask this, because I see my own art students struggle with these feelings.
Yes, she suffers from self-doubt.  This is a huge part of her story! Jasmine is always comparing herself to her Father. She believes that in order to call herself an artist she must win awards like he does. But, Jasmine can never seem to win an award. Part of Jasmine’s art journey is about learning that she doesn’t have to win awards. Jasmine discovers that her definition of an artist is someone who contributes to her community.  
How and when can we find you and STAINED GLASS SUMMER?
STAINED GLASS SUMMER will be released on December 30. It’s available as an e-book, in all formats, at Musa Publishing, and all your favorite on-line bookstores. 
A free reader’s discussion guide is available for download at:
Readers can find me at:
Twitter: @mindyhardwick 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays and a Happy Tail (er Tale?)

These are two of the faces I love. On the left is Bosco. We found Bosco running down the middle of a highway, in the rain, when he was about 8 months old (he's 10 now). Nobody came forward for him, so this lovable goof of a Boxer/Hound mix has been with us ever since. He's the kind of dog that loves everybody and everybody loves him. My kids' friends all pick Bosco as their favorite. He's that kid/dog that can seamlessly work his way through groups and get a clap on the back from everyone.

Next to him, in similar colored clothing, is sweet Hazel. Her story is cool. From college into my 20's, I shared my life with a dog named Peanut. I met him at 3 weeks old, took him home at 6 weeks old, and lived with him for ten years, through single life, married life, divorced life, moving across state lines, finding my soul mate. And then he was poisoned by a cruel neighbor. I was devastated. Two years ago this coming March '12,  a neighboring Humane Society posted adoptable pictures. And that face above stared back at me. Holy Reincarnation - that was Peanut! I kid you not.

I called the shelter and the woman told me she'd already put this dog's brothers down because they were feral and fear aggressive. She planned on taking Hazel home over the weekend because she saw a  "glimmer" and hoped for the best. I said that I didn't care what happened over the weekend, not to put her down till I could get there on Monday.  Of course, I adopted her. And she being a she, was christened Hazelnut. Also known as Biscuit, or Poochanetta (to go with Bosco's Boscarelli), or just Netta. (All animals have multiple names in our home).

For the first week (after she escaped) we couldn't get her in the house. Bosco finally got her in. For the first six months she hid under the bed or under the chair in the office. Bosco gave her confidence. For the next six months, she slowly allowed me to be her mama as long as I made no sudden moves. Bosco told her it would be okay. For the next six months she allowed my partner to get to know her. Bosco said what's the big deal. And now, she cuddles in the bed ('cause Bosco does), she wags her tail at my son (a big deal because she's terrified of men), and yesterday she begrudgingly gave in to a Christmas bath - without fear. Then she gave me one paw at a time to towel off. Bosco smiled and said, "See, I told you it'd be all right."

So Happy Holidays from Boscarelli and Poochanetta - Italian Love Hounds, also known as Mutt and Jeff, Smooth and Scruffy, Goofy Dog and Little Dog, Bosco and Hazelnut. Oh and yes, Happy Holidays from me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

High School Tuesday - The Teacher, Friend or Foe?

Friend or Foe - Do teachers work for or against your YA characters?  As I’m finishing my first semester as a real life high school teacher, I’ve thought a lot about this idea.  Prior to this, I’d been teaching K-8, where the art teacher is generally well-liked.  I was nervous about high school.  All of a sudden, I was one of THEM. The infamous THEM.

I think of John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA - the teachers at Pudge’s boarding school were merely road bumps in the way of living a true and good boarding school life.  In Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK, Mr. Freeman, the over-zealous art teacher, helps the MC work to let her inner tree grow and blossom and speak.  In UNDONE, by Brooke Taylor, Doc Ramsey is both concerned, interesting teacher and worrisome meddler.  

Middle Grade books I think of (Mrs. Granger in FRINDLE and the wonderful faculty at Hogwarts) tend to show more well-rounded teachers, real people, with bumps and bruises, warts and smiles, but usually with the student’s best interest at heart.

So how is it in real life?  This is what I’ve figured out from my one semester.

  • Teenagers can spot a phony.
  • Teenagers will laugh at you if you try and show off a tramp stamp or wear a thong - but they think small piercings and small tattoos are super cool on a teacher. (in other words - act your age - not theirs)
  • Teenagers want to be heard.
  • Teenagers can tell if you’re truly seeing them - and that matters.
  • Teenagers don’t want to be talked down to.
  • Fair matters, but most understand that fair does not equal same.
  • Teens are reasonable (usually) if given reasonable logic.
  • Teenagers know if you care and if you care about their learning.
  • Teenagers appreciate laughter and the chance to socialize.
  • Teenagers respect teachers we will admit mistakes.
  • Teenagers respect teachers we are firm with their policies (if those policies makes sense).
So, if a teacher can remember and act on the above- you end up a Mr. Freeman or a Doc Ramsey. But if you’re not, you end up foe.  

Can you think of fictional teachers that fall into these categories?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sick Day Contemplations - What I've had to give up to be a writer

Today, the day I was supposed to be baking copious quantities of bon-bon cookies, preparing my great--grandmother, Baba's, cardamon bread recipe and writing 1k in the new WIP, I am instead, in bed, sick with a coldy-fluey thing.  I am not happy.  I am a terrible sick person. Why? Because I'm a go, go, go-er.

So, I've thought about all the things from this year. And am dividing it into two categories. The Things I Did and The Things I Had to Let Slide.


  • Finished a Young Adult manuscript, CAST IN GOLD
  • Graduated a daughter from high school (no mean feat since she was illiterate when she came to us at age 13)
  • Took two creative writing courses with Joy Neaves
  • Taught 350 3rd-5th graders in an open studio art room, 5 day x week, December-June
  • Interviewed and got the high school art position in my county
  • Joined the #wipmadness gang on Twitter
  • Taught an art summer camp
  • Signed with a literary agent.
  • Watched my daughter make some really bad, game-changing decisions and learned to live with the worry while realizing she has to live her own life
  • Cleaned out a thirty-year teacher's art room and made it my own
  • Finished an Upper Middle Grade manuscript, MARKS OF A HORSEKEEPER
  • Started teaching high school
  • Read 77 books as of today's count
  • Critted for lots of CP's
  • Blogged regularly
  • Took care of family
  • Went out on submission
  • Celebrated my son's soccer achievement as Goalkeeper of the Year for his conference
  • Celebrated his acceptance to his college of choice
  • And all the everyday stuff like grocery shopping, animal husbandry, finding time for friends

So the above list is impressive and because of it, there are a few things gone (for now) from my life.  It makes me sad and my goal for next year is to pull at least the horses back in more. A new job has added stressors, as has my daughter.  Son will leave in the fall for college, but he's a huge help on the farm.  But here's what I've had to give up to be a writer:
  • personal Facebook - there is just no time.
  • Volunteer duties at our local Humane Society - I was responsible for photographing all the animals for adoption and though I loved the job, the bi-weekly all-day event finally just proved to be more than I could keep up with
  • training my two young horses. I have two oldster retirees and two babies. I can't ride till I get the babies trained. This wasn't the year.  But at my age, a year off from riding is not a good thing.
  • Friends - I've been so myopic it's been hard to do things like get birthday cards or calls done, or even quick hello's. Facebook helped with that, but to write, teach, and take care of a farm - that's all there is.
  • personal health - agh - 6 pounds more of me. This has got to change.
  • My own artwork - see first list.

Now, if you've read all the way through to the end of this self-indulgent list - thanks.  It helps sometimes to get it all down in writing. To see what you have done, and where you want to go for the next year...but that will come on New Years! 

What have you had to give up to follow your dream of writing?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Memories of High School You - Pat Esden

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion, and music have changed but that overall quest for self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  Fellow MG and YA authors will share their own spin on the hallowed halls.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.

This week it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Pat Esden.  I first met Patty on Verla Kay's Blue Boards last winter. Since then, she's become my go-to critique partner. And fabulous she is, both in helping out her fellow writers and in the gothic and thrilling stories she crafts. I can't wait to celebrate her successes in the near future. Patty go be found on her own blog and at the group blog, Cabinet of Curiosities.  But without further ado, here's high school Pat!

Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location? 
I went to Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont. It’s a private school which was founded in 1829. However, all the local kids attend Burr and Burton because there’s no local high school. The really cool thing about this is that, as a private school, Burr and Burton doesn’t have to follow the same regulations as public schools.  In other words, we had some awesome teachers like retired college professors who’d come in to teach fulltime or to work with a few students—aka great teachers and professionals who don’t necessarily have the certification to teach in public schools. 
My graduating class was under 100 kids. And we had an open campus—which meant we could leave the school and go anywhere during study halls and lunchtime.
Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
I floated between cliques from the rednecks and farm kids, to the pot-heads, jocks, outcasts and greasers.  It always struck me odd that there were a lot of kids I like to hang out with that I didn’t get to see much of because I was in the college prep/ AP classes and they were doing fun stuff like tech classes or smoking in butt alley. 
Also, in Vermont there is a distinction between Vermonters and out-of-staters (and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in Vermont, you are never a Vermonter unless you were born here). I had lots of Vermonter friends, but I was born in Western Massachusetts so that was one clique I never could belong to. I did however marry a full blood Vermonter.
(J.Ro here - that reminds me of growing up in the South and now living in Appalachia - being born somewhere is the mark of being a "from here.")
Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
I had a calculus teacher who was a young, single guy and a coach. There weren’t very many girls in the class and he spent a lot of time talking to the football guys about things like how gross it was when girls didn’t shave the backs of their legs. I never shave my legs without thinking about that class. (This made me laugh so hard!)
In freshman year, I had an English teacher who gave me a bit of practical advice which was life altering. He told me that my hand writing was holding me back. He suggested I buy a typewriter and take typing class. His idea was that if I typed all my papers, my grades would go up significantly and I’d be a better speller because I’d be able to see my mistakes. He was right—and that was before computers were common place.
Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
Yes. When I was deciding what to major in for college it was a toss-up between English or Plant and Soil Science. The publishing world was not as accessible as it is now and so I chose the more practical degree. Once I got to college, I took creative writing for several years and went on to take it as independent study, so I could fit it in with my Plant and Soil classes. But I had a professor who was convinced fantasy was trash, so I put the writing aside. I respected him and was too easily brainwashed by the idea there was no future in writing the genre I loved. 
What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
Oh, my. This is a tough one.  On my own, I devoured Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, Mary Stuart and any book with a vampire or werewolf in it.  In class, I read oodles of classics. In my senior year, I did an independent study of Irish writers and had a fairly long love affair with James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (I blame him for some of my comma issues) and John Fowles’ Magus.  Hermann Hesse’ books appealed to my teenager-ish desire to think about the esoteric. And pretty much any book which had a sex scene in it—they were the best. (You mean I can blame someone else for my comma errors? Oh, freedom!)
I think all the books I read taught me a joy of playing with words and language, and about the wide variety of ways stories can be told.  
What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember? 
This is pretty much like the clique question. I listened to all kinds of music depending on which crowd I was with at the time, everything from country to acid rock, rhythm and blues. Wild outdoor concerts and fiddler contests (I’m talking serious weekend long parties of public drinking, drugs and braless dancing) were common when I was a teen, so there were a lot of popular local musicians.
The album cover is an easy question. One Christmas, my best friend’s brother got a copy of a Linda Ronstadt album (at least I think it was her). His mother claimed she was aghast because Ronstadt’s nipples showed through her shirt, so Mom put two Band-Aids on the album cover before giving it to him.  It actually was a fairly tame cover as I recall.
Kate and Anna McGarrible were one of my favorites when I was in a tragic no-one-will-ever-love-me teenager mood.
I recall my father banging on the wall and telling me to stop playing this song—like for the 1000th time

What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
 I wouldn’t say it was all the rage, but my low-cut black leotard rocked my world. That last You Tube with Linda Ronstadt pretty much summed up my high school wardrobe--except for the really short dress, I never went for shorter hemlines.
What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
I wasn’t ever into organized sports. I belonged to the drama club, the archeology club, student council and the haunted house club (which was supposed to explore the paranormal).  Also I was worked on the school newspaper. After school, I put time in at my parents’ gift and greenhouse business. On weekends, I cooked at the drive-in movie theater and sometimes sold stuff at flea markets. I also had a love of bird watching. Those years definitely influenced my writing. (A haunted house club? How cool is that! And having been privy to your manuscripts, I can see all this early stuff play into your writing.)
Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
Both. I probably wasn’t as good of student as I could have been because I had other things on my mind—like partying.  I never had a full-fledged high school boyfriend; in fact I went to dances stag, except for my senior prom when I went with a guy friend who shortly afterwards came out of the closet. I turned eighteen early in my senior year (legal drinking age at the time), and after that got into the bar scene and older guys.
Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why?
I had several best friends in different cliques, but I never recall having any enemies of any kind—sorry (Nothing to apologize for there!)
If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
Forget about the older guys. The high school guys you have the hots for are just chicken shit, ask them out! And ask Mom for some cash to go clothes shopping—and don’t take Mom with you, take a friend to help you pick out some cool outfits and buy those funky boots you always wanted. ;O)
How do we find you now? 
I’m around Twitter @PatEsden
My main blog is here:
I also belong to a group blog:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's in a name?

This week I had a book sitting on my desk that I'd just finished reading.  A student picked it up and looked at the cover.

"Is this any good?" she asked.
"Freaky scary good," I replied.

She returned it to the library and checked it back out and returned to the classroom.  After a minute she said, "Can I go take this back."

"What, you're not going to read it?"
"No, I don't like the names."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't like the names, they're like Carlos and Joey and Alex."

I was stumped.  This is a cool kid, not likely to be turned off by ethnicity other than her own.

"Is it because they're Hispanic? Boys?"
"No, it's not that.  I just don't like the names so I don't want to read it."

When I think about the books I've read and loved this year and the protagonist's names I come up with Katsa and Katniss and Marcelo, Peeta, and Gael.  Names are grittier in lots of ways.  Unusual.  Even in my own WIP - I have Roan and Slight and Whisper - names I don't hear in the halls at school.  Susan's and Gordy's don't show up much in MG or YA fiction these days.

Think about Katsa and Katniss - both start with crisp, strong consonants.  The 's' sound is like a hiss or a slither.  They sound strong.  They sound otherworldly.  And maybe that's what it's about.  When we read we want to escape, to experience life or another world through someone else's skin.

What are your favorite names from this year's fiction?  Do you think names make a difference?  Are you surprised by my student?  Do you think it's true of most young readers?  Looking forward to your thoughts!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fah-git-a-bout-it!! (Yeah, right)

So this is a break from my normal High School Tuesday post.  The reason is simple.


And though I should take my own advice and forget about it, I'm finding it to be nigh unto impossible.  It's like this wormy anxiety that's living just under the surface of my skin.  I try to ignore it, but it's like a constant bleep or brain worm or a tic.

Friends ask me, "Aren't you nervous?"  And no, nervous isn't really the right word, because I'm still so completely flabbergasted that I'm at this point.  Sometimes I just giggle at the surrealness of it all.  Me, an agent?  Me, completed manuscripts?  Me, on submission? That in itself, ladies and gentlemen, is akin to winning the lottery these days.

And then I remember, "Uh, lady, lest you forget you sat butt in chair every morning for a good year and a half - religiously - no breaks for good behavior."  Right.  I did work hard.  And for years before that I stuck my toes in and out of the water before I finally committed 100% to this writing thing.

But like that kid I was who would tear away the corner of the Christmas wrapping so I would KNOW what I was receiving (hi mom :0)), now I'm an adult who can't stand to wait.  And this waiting is killing me!  What's more, I really, really want to know if I get to keep writing about the world and characters I created in this novel.  Because my real hope is, this book will lead to two more.

So fingers and toes crossed, good karma thrown to the wind, whispers, dreams, luck, and maybe a smidge of magic that my horsegirl and her horse will live to see readers.

In the meantime, I'm going to try and forget about it by working on something completely different.

And you, how do you deal with the waiting game of the kidlit world?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Memories of High School You - Kip Wilson Rechea

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion, and music have changed but that overall quest for self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  Fellow MG and YA authors will share their own spin on the hallowed halls.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.

This week I'm pleased to introduce Twitter, Blue Board, WIPMadness, and Critique partner extraordinaire - Kip Wilson Rechea, aka Kiperoo.  Kip is a fabulous YA author whose books I know we'll be plucking off book store shelves sooner rather than later.  But in the meantime, I'm ready to read about high school Kip.  How about you?

Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
I went to an almost stereotypical rich girls' boarding school, in Troy, NY (outside of Albany). But no, my dad isn't a diplomat or anything. :-P Both my parents were chemists, and my mom was the school's chemistry teacher, so I got to go there for free. We had a small class—about 90 girls from all over the world. 
(J.Ro here - Oh man, I escaped all girl's school after ten years (K-9). Teenage girls in groups can be tough!)
Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
Not really. People hung out with other girls on their residence halls, and I was a day student, so I mostly hung out with other day students. Other than that, it was really easy to talk to most anyone you met, in classes, sports, activities etc. I didn't “do” sports, but ballet was my “sport” and it was a lot of fun.
Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
Yes! My high school German teacher was so good that it made me want to continue with German and study other languages. I ended up going all the way (hahaha) with German, getting my Ph.D. in it. 
(I love this story - must have been an amazing teacher)
Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
Not really. I loved to read, and I loved languages. I had written a fair amount in my earlier years, but once I hit high school, I was having too much fun to write. 
What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
Two things, both from German class! I read about the White Rose resistance movement, which I found fascinating (university students in Germany, including a girl, who were captured and killed by the Nazis for distributing anti-Hitler leaflets). And I also got my taste of real German literature. I first read some Goethe, Rilke, and Kafka, which totally blew my mind.
What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
At first, J. Geils Band, especially the blues stuff, Beatles, the Clash, Led Zeppelin. Later I got into everything from electronic stuff like OMD and hardcore punk like Suicidal Tendencies and Black Flag. Oh yeah. All I wanted was a Pepsi.
(Okay, you could have ridden in my car and brought your tapes)
What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
OK, this might sound weird, but I pretty much wear a lot of the same stuff. I was never into trends, so my favorite clothes back then were my army cargo pants and black turtlenecks, and I still wear tons of army clothes and black now. The colors of the olive!
What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
Ballet! I've got a ballet thread in my current WIP. I would have done yoga had it been around then—love yoga now! I hate sports (except I love watching the Red Sox), so I doubt I'd ever be able to pull off a sporty character. I loved music, and spent hours playing guitar or just listening to music. 
Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
I was good about my academics. *coughs* Got good grades and really liked my language classes. But I was definitely wild too. I had a Very Cool Aunt who introduced me to Interesting Things, and I loved to experiment. My world also revolved around my boyfriend senior year. We totally had the same taste in music, moshed in the pit together, and both got really into photography. Plus other secret stuff. Which our parents found out about. Which got us in trouble. Sssssshhh. 
(teenage J.Ro is giggling and wants you to tell her all about it after school)
Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
I'm sure lots of things were “wicked” or “wicked awesome,” but they still are now, right? RIGHT?
Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why?
I had a few people I considered my bestie. Probably my best friend through most of the high school years was another tall, skinny chick like me. We spent our time talking about boys, wild hair, music, and stuff like that. One of my other best friends was a really funny Filipino girl who loved—and still loves—good clean fun. She's still one of my best friends today. Then of course there was my boyfriend, who totally rocked my world. We went out for my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. He was the first person who really understood me. We had a blast!  
If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
Just keep doing what you're doing. :-)
How do we find you now?