Thursday, April 19, 2012

GUEST BLOG ~ Barbara Ehrentreu

Today's Guest Blogger is a fellow She-Writer and member of the Blooming Late Group

Keeping Secrets
In the YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the main character, Carolyn Samuels, has to keep a lot of secrets from her friends and family. Have you ever had to keep a secret? What was the reason?
Carolyn finds herself in the middle of a very bad situation. She learns a terrible secret about the mean girl who has been bullying her since middle school and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Jennifer Taylor, the mean girl, is no one to cross. So Carolyn starts doing things she would never do. She winds up doing things for Jennifer and she lies to her parents and her best friends. Yet she keeps the secret.
Should she have kept Jennifer’s secret? Maybe she should have told someone. If you find a person who has a serious problem, when is it right to tell on them so they can get help? Are you being helpful by keeping that person’s secret or are you hurting them by keeping the secret?
As the author I felt I had a responsibility to write this story as true to life as possible. In my own life I have had to keep secrets. Sometimes these secrets were very painful, yet my friend or relative depended upon me keeping that secret for them. I felt I could not let them down. Carolyn goes through a lot of soul searching about the secret and in the process of keeping the secret winds up needing to cover up more and more of her own activities to protect the secret. In other words, needing to keep the secret caused a series of events associated with the secret. None of the things that happen to Carolyn happened to me, and also I was a little older than she. But she does have some pretty tempting moments when all she needed to do was reveal Jennifer’s secret and her life would go back to normal.
Does she give Jennifer’s secret away and face the consequences or does she keep it? All the answers are in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor released by MuseItUp Publishing and available at The Muse Bookstore and Amazon, Barnes and Noble and almost all other internet sources.
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?

Also please visit my blog, Barbara’s Meanderings:
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Please leave a comment about your own experience with secrets to be in the drawing to win a free ebook.

(I am giving away a free ebook to the person who wins the comment drawing)

Barbara Ehrentreu Bio
Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was published by MuseItUp Publishing, September 16th and was inspired by Paula Danziger. This novel recently won 2nd place in the Preditors & Editors Poll for the Best Young Adult Book of 2011. In addition, Barbara has a story in the anthology, Lavender Dreams, also published by MuseItUp Publishing. All proceeds from this anthology go to cancer research. Barbara also writes poetry and three of her poems are included in the anthology, Prompted: An International Collection of Poems, a collaboration of members of The Anthologists.  Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts RRWL Tales from the Pages (Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages) on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor available from MuseItUp PublishingAmazon, Kindle, Nook.

Barbara's Meanderings

Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages

NY Literature Examiner for

Feeling my old hatred of gym, I glance across the locker room and see Jennifer in red designer shorts and a tight sleeveless shirt to match. She's standing in front of the only mirror in the room turning back and forth.
Becky and I slide into our loose camp shorts and a T-shirt, and once they're on, we race onto the gym floor. Always better to be early for gym the first day.  You never knew what kind of teacher you'd have. My athletic ability is zero, so I don’t take chances. Once I was a few minutes late, and the gym teacher in middle school made me run around the gym ten times. It took me the whole gym period.
 "Maybe it won't be so bad this year, Carolyn." Becky always tries to cheer me up now. This wasn’t true a few years ago. I had to cheer her up a lot. Becky’s brothers are just turning five, and they’re both in kindergarten. Her mom remarried after being divorced for ten years. Becky was just getting used to her new stepfather when her mom got pregnant. I remember how miserable Becky was the first year of middle school when her mom spent so much time with her twin brothers and didn’t have enough time to help Becky with her homework. Luckily, Becky’s stepfather is a history teacher, so she got very interested in history and current events.

Becky and I sit on the low seats in the bleachers, but Jennifer and her group saunter into the gym and choose the highest seats avoiding the rest of us. Miss Gaylon, the gym teacher introduces herself and gives us a few minutes until the last stragglers come from the locker room.  For those few minutes, I almost feel comfortable. My breathing returns to normal. I hear giggles from Jennifer and her group, but I ignore it.

"Right, Becky, and maybe I'll learn to be a gymnast in ten minutes. Reality check, remember last year?"

"Okay, I'm hoping it won't be so bad."

"You mean like the dentist finding you only have one cavity and filling it the same day?"
"You’re so lame, Carolyn. Since we're all older, maybe she'll treat us differently. People change over the summer you know."
"Look at her, Becky."
Becky turns to look over at the group at the top of the bleachers and then turns back to look me in the eye. “You know you have to put that stupid day behind you.”
I pretend not to know what she’s talking about. “What stupid day?”
Like I don’t remember every detail.
“The zip line day.”
“Oh, that day,” I say with a combination grimace and smile. “The day I wound up having to climb off the platform. I wanted to bore a hole into the ground so I wouldn’t have to walk past them but couldn’t, and everyone screamed at me: ‘Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’”
“You have to admit it was funny the way the gym teacher ran up the ladder like a squirrel to rescue you. Everyone laughed at how stupid she looked. Jennifer got the whole class going with that ridiculous ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’” Becky looks behind her to Jennifer. “You know I wanted to run over and punch her, but I couldn’t because I was still on the platform, and it was my turn to go.”
“Yeah, if I had a few more minutes, I would have been able to get up the courage to grip the zip line and hook myself to it. Stupid teacher didn’t give me a chance. This not breathing thing when I get nervous really sucks.”
Becky nods because she knows me so well.
“So then Jennifer started with that horrible chant, and of course, the whole class followed her, like always.” My eyes fill with tears as I remember, and my breathing is getting worse by the minute.
“I thought it was a dumb idea to do ropes course stuff in school. We did it at my camp the summer before, and no one was forced to do it. Anyone could get nervous with Jennifer in front of them,” Becky comforts me.
I continue talking as if I’m in a trance. “Remember how last year whenever I ran into Jennifer she would whisper ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe,’ so no one could hear it except me. Once she did it just before I had to go up in front of the class in math.   Sometimes she would do it in front of everyone and, of course, get a big laugh while I wanted to turn into a piece of furniture.”
Becky grabs my arm.  “Do we have to go back over this again? You need to forget about it.” She takes her hand away from my arm as I continue to speak.
“Becky, I can’t. The thing is it’s this bad movie in my brain looping the same horrible scenes. The funny thing is, most of the time, she would ignore me. I would never know what she was going to do. You have to admire someone so single-minded she managed to get to me at just the right time.
You remember don’t you? And today did you see how she wore the same outfit as me? It’s spooky.”
My funny breathing returns as Miss Gaylon tells us to line up on the yellow line alphabetically. I hope there will be someone to go between Jennifer and me. No luck. Jennifer is going to be behind me all year. I hold my breath. I couldn't stand more of the same this year. I pray for the day to end soon. A glance at my new watch shows me fifteen more minutes left of the period. Is Miss Gaylon's voice getting lower?  What is that pounding in my ears?
Jennifer turns to face me, and I hear, "Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then my world turns black.


  1. So glad to have you post today Barbara! ;)

  2. Thank you, Sherie! I am going to let everyone know as soon as I get your post ready on my blog.:)

  3. Samantha, thank you! Did you go to my blog to read about Sheri's book? We are switching blogs:) I would love you to win the free ebook!!

  4. Looking forward to seeing how Carolyn handles the secret.
    As a kid growing up in an abusive home, you learn to keep many secrets...I think everyone has a secret they can't share.

  5. MaryLynn, I appreciate your courage in talking about your experiences. I hope you win the book!!

  6. Barbara, I really enjoyed the post and the blurb about your novel. If I were a YA, I would probably find the story intriguing, especially the "secrets" part and buy the book. I'll be happy to mention it on both my twitter and face book pages, as well as my book site.

  7. Nancy, so happy you came to visit both blogs!! If you read my reviews you will see that all ages enjoyed this book! Glad you liked the excerpt and I think you will enjoy reading it. Maybe you will win a copy.

  8. Mavbe I will..... LOL I'd love it if you checked out my latest writer's profile and followed me:

  9. This is Sunday and I gave everyone a chance to leave a comment here for the free book, but it seems that it is only you three who did that!! So I am doing the drawing and will send Sheri the name of the winner when it is done. Good luck to all of you. Maybe one of you will have a free pdf of my book soon.:)

  10. Thank you Barbara. Letting everyone know that the winner is Samantha Stacia and Barbara will be sending you her PDF soon. Thanks everyone for participating. ; )