February 13th, 2014
I know I’ve been MIA lately; something I hope to remedy starting in March. For now, though, I wanted to pop in and give you a pre-Valentine’s treat. The cover of Holly Schindler’s third YA Book, Feral!
It’s too late for you. You’re dead.
Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.
Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .
With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.
Be sure to mark your calendars for its release date on August 26th. Or you know, go ahead and pre-order it and/or add it to your Goodreads shelves now.
October 29th, 2013
October is National Anti-Bullying Month. and when I was approached to have Nicole Quigley do a guest post, I jumped at the opportunity. Her new book, Like Moonlight at Low Tide, tells the story of high school Junior Melissa Keiser as she faces a past full of bullying and the loss of someone she loves to suicide. Melissa’s story comes from parts of Quigley’s own childhood experiences. Today’s post she asks: Does Being Pretty Matter?
One of the most difficult things I faced when writing a book about a bullied girl was deciding whether or not to make her pretty and popular in the end.
The main character in my book is ostracized throughout middle school for being the ugliest girl in school. The mere fact that she has a crush on one of the popular guys makes the mean girls swarm around her like a mass of tracker jackers. But that’s her back story.
We meet Melissa (and Like Moonlight at Low Tide begins) when she’s a junior in high school. And the real story unfolds after the bullying stops.
How does she ever feel right again after being told she’s all wrong? How does she sit next to those same kids just a couple years later when they never acknowledged what they did and she never admitted it hurt?
In the real world, girls can be bullied for a lot of different things. I chose beauty because it’s such a personal part of the feminine experience. It could have been anything.
As Melissa’s story unfolded on the page, I wrestled with whether or not I’d keep her unattractive by bully standards or somehow let her blossom into looking the way she always dreamed. What I found is that the stories don’t end up playing out that much different in the end.
A girl who has been bullied is often left with questions. What’s so wrong with me? Why can’t I be like everyone else? Is there anyone who will love me?
Becoming pretty (or whatever it is) overnight doesn’t make those questions go away. Eventually, she might even forget that those questions didn’t start out as her own in the first place. Posing them to the wrong people and things can drive the prettiest of girls into a real life plot line that wears her down and chips away at her dignity.
But a girl who doesn’t feel she’s blossomed enough often finds herself in the same predicament, desperate for affirmation, and traveling the very same path. She may navigate to slightly different settings, but her core story still ends up being one of sinking in or acting out because the bullies have shaken the ground beneath her (and she let them).
Either way, girls and characters alike who clutch onto the bits of beauty they can muster in the hope of siphoning different answers from the same world that once rejected them are dangerous—most of all to themselves. I know this because I was once one of those girls.
Affirmation from others can begin to fill up that dark hole of questions, but it will never fill it up enough.
I wrote Melissa beautiful—the kind of beauty she always thought would save her. I didn’t make her pretty because it was convenient. I wrote about a bullied girl who started to get everything she wanted because I wanted to show the swirling, lukewarm pattern so many of us get pulled into without realizing it.
It is the pattern of posing all of our questions to everyone except the only one I have found who is qualified to answer them to true satisfaction: the Lord who made us and says those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Nicole is the author of Like Moonlight at Low Tide (Zondervan / Blink), recipient of the 2013 ACFW “Carol Award” for Best Young Adult Fiction. Connect with her on www.facebook.com/nicolequigleybooks, on twitter @nicolequigley, and on her site at www.nicolequigleybooks.com.
October 17th, 2013
When: September 19th, 5:30 – 7:00pm
Resources: Cut out and Keep: Book Hedgehogs
How many teens: 9 teens
- Buttons; $15, 2 packs of big buttons, 1 pack of small buttons.
- Paperback books; $0, I grabbed gently used discarded or donated books
- Scissors; $0, already had
- Paper clips, $0, already had
I feel silly writing this even up, because it’s so easy. If you’ve looked at the directions, it’s literally just folding each page in half and then turning the corners in. That’s all you have to do….100 or more times. It can be a bit tedious, but the socialized while they did it and they loved how cute they were. Many of my teens were able to make two or three before they left. A couple even asked to take the extra books with them to make some at home. I also had some teens get creative and gave their hedgies little accessories or even some color.
90 minutes for this program was way too long. This craft would have been better at the hour range. Most of the teens had finished their first one within 30 minutes or so.
The size of the book does matter. If the book is too long you hedgie will be way too fat. I tried to keep all the books for the teens around 100 – 120 pages. Those seemed to make the best sized ones.
Be sure to have the books vary in height. The shorter books make cute “baby” hedgies.
If I ever do this one again, I’ll be sure to have some felt and other materials they can dress up their hedgie. Some of my teens took advantage of the extra book cover and markers that were hanging around, but it would have been interesting to see what they could have really come up with.
September 27th, 2013
When: September 17th, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Resources: Sugar Scrub Recipes: Chocolate, Snickerdoodle, & Vanilla, Facial Mask Recipe, DIY Sleep Mask, Nail Art Ideas
How many teens: 10 teens
- Nail Polish/Art/Removal (22): $22; plenty left for future program
- Mirrors (4): $4
- Measuring cups (2): $2
- Jars (10): $0; already had
- Cinnamon: $1
- Honey: $1
- Brown Sugar: $1
- Vegetable Oil: $2.84
- Bowls: $2.42
- Sugar (2): $4
- Nutmeg: $3.86
- Cocoa: $1
- Batting/stuffing: $3.97
- Elastic (3): $3
- Fabric (2 yds): $10.97; plenty left for future craft
- Sew Kit: $4.97; will be used for future crafts
I divided the room into three tables: Sugar Scrubs/Face Masks, Nails, & Sleep Masks. The girls (and one boy!) decided to start off with sugar scrubs. I had the three different recipes printed out and let them decide which scent they preferred to do. They quickly learned that sugar scrubs aren’t an exact science and had fun creating new scents (like a chocolate vanilla). (30 mins)
At this point, the group started to break off a bit. The girls were interested in the facial, but didn’t want to do it because they had make-up up on. Same thing for the nails. Some of the girls were interested in trying some of the tutorials, but they had just had their nails done a couple of days ago. So, I had some who jumped over to the nail table while others continued to make another batch of sugar scrubs (the single recipe only fills about half a jar). The girls who went to nails were able to help each other and other than a few mistake were able to handle this without my help. (30 mins)
Towards the end of the night, most of the girls ended up at the sleep mask station. They had 5-6 different fabrics they could pick from. The kit I bought had plenty of needles, thread, and pins for all the girls to use. The tutorial I used was quite simple and merely consisted of cutting out the pattern, sewing it together, and then adding stuffing. I was slightly worried about them not being able to hand stitch, but only one girl had any problems. (30 mins)
Sugar scrubs are quite forgiving. We used vegetable oil for all of ours instead of the grape seed oil, olive oil, etc. The oils are pretty exchangeable, so whichever you choose should be fine for all the recipes. Also, many of the teens has to add more oil as it was too dry for their tastes.
Most of the girls opted not to use the stuffing for their sleep masks. Most of them wanted to put rice in instead. The rice can be heated up to be used as a heat mask, which they all preferred. (I’ve also heard you can throw them in the freezer for about 15 minutes and use them as a cold mask, however, I’ve never tried this out.)
Don’t be afraid to let boys come. I think the one I had came as a joke/to flirt with the girls, but he didn’t really disrupt the program at all. (At least, no more than normal) He ended up loving the sugar scrub (exclaiming how soft it made it hands) and helped the girls with his nails. I will admit we tried to get him to paint his nails, but were unable to get him to really do it.
While the nail station went fine, I think it may have been fun to pick one tutorial and have all the teens do it at once. If I decide to do this, I’ll make sure the teens don’t have their nails done the days before/come with clean nails.
I’ve done a spa day in the past with Mary Kay, that just went way too fast. However, pairing these activities with what she offered may have been quite nice. If I do another one, I will probably reach out to a consultant to see if they would come in.
September 26th, 2013
When: September 13th, 4:30 – 8:00pm
How many teens: 22 teens
- Empty Boxes (collected from Library)
- Nerf Guns (already had)
I put all the collected boxes into the middle of the room. After splitting the group into two, I let the team captains take turn picking which boxes we had. Since we had boxes of all sizes I felt like this would make the box division the most even. Once the teams and box had been divvied up, I gave them about 15 minutes to build their base.
After the bases were built, I pulled went over all the rules. The rounds would last 10 minutes, if you were hit you were out (but I allowed them to go back in at the halfway point), and no headshots. I then allowed each team to pull out 10 chairs to use as cover and started the game.
I did change up the rules up a little as we played. For example, I set the timer for every 2 minutes, so they’re “dead” time was much shorter. We also switched up teams about halfway through and the teens started to get creative and created body armor out of boxes. I did have a couple of kids decide to go board games with my co-worker towards the end (Dual program), but the majority stayed with the nerf guns the whole time.
Overall, this one was quite successful. All the teens I’ve talked to had a blast & are already excited about next month (zombies). I even had a couple of teens who expressed surprise at how much fun they had (slightly insulting, but kind of the best compliment, too)
The only real change I would make is to have them divide their teams into “roles”. I had one team who tried to camp the whole time behind their fort (I did outlaw this), but I could see keeping a “gunner” or a “weapon re-loader” back behind there while everyone else tackled the battlefield.
The other thing I’m not sure how to fix is the “I got so – and – so and they’re won’t go out!” I tried to watch as much as possible, but with 20 teens all shooting guns at the same time it’s near impossible. I did start saying that if someone says they got you, then you’re out. With the time limit being every 2 minutes, most teens didn’t have to wait too long. I know it wasn’t the best solution, but it was the most workable at that moment. If I decide to do nerf gun wars this style again, this will be something I think harder about and try to come up with a solution.