So I love to read, but the books I pick change when I'm stressed. My go to stress reliever books are YA mysteries because they keep my mind focused on solving the mysteries, but they don't contain as much of my real world adult problems, so I can escape more. One of my go to series happens to be the newer Nancy Drew books. It can be hard to find these in libraries, so I was excited when one library got in 4 that I requested!!! Thanks so much to the library for getting me through the next few days of social isolation and anxiety!
Session Two Discussion and Journaling/Writing Prompts
Landry is excited that her teacher, Mrs. Kharrazi, wants to enter her short story into a student writing contest. However, her two best friends make her feel insecure about it. Why do you think Tori and Ericka act they way they do about Landry getting chosen in the first round of the American Ingenue competition and being asked to enter her story in the writing contest? Have you ever had someone you considered a friend act strange when something good happened to you? How did they act and how did it make you feel?
Landry is surprised by the way Tori and Ericka are acting toward her and she doesn’t know how to respond. What would you say to them if you were in Landry’s shoes?
Landry is beginning to reach out to girls beyond her usual small group of just Ericka and Tori. She starts talking to girls like Peyton, India, Devon, Ashanti, Thalia, and others. What do you notice about the different connections she has with the girls she gets to know in the story? Write down who you think is a good friend (and influence) on Landry throughout the book and why you think that. We’ll keep coming back to these friendships and you might find these relationships change over time. See if any of these friendships remind you of your own. Sometimes readers write and tell me they didn’t notice a friend was acting “toxic” until they noticed that person reminded them of one of the characters in the book. Sometimes it’s easier to see something when it’s happening to someone else, but we don’t always see it in our own lives. Why do you think that happens?
Landry is having a tough day after her friends start to turn on her and she goes to pick out some movies to watch that night. She says cartoon princess movies are her go to comfort films when she’s going through a rough time. Do you have anything you turn to when you’re having a difficult time? Write about or discuss which movies or books you like during tough times and why you find them comforting. Are there any that are helping you now while you are home during this time?
As you read True Colors, pay attention to the way different colors (everything from hair color, eye color, the lip glosses in Thalia’s birthday party bags, jewelry, etc.) show up in the book and make a note of it each time you see it. Why do you think there is a focus on that?
In this section, Landry is invited to Thalia’s birthday. It’s her first time going to an event without her two best friends (Tori and Ericka) and she’s nervous about walking in alone. She manages to get a ride with India, Peyton, and Devon to avoid going by herself to the party. Going in with a group makes her feel more secure. Have you ever been nervous about walking into a setting by yourself? What did you do to make yourself feel calmer?
Behind the scenes info: I get asked a lot if I ever went through what Landry did where I had to find a new group of friends and the answer is…YES. It was a painful thing to go through and it wasn’t until I was in college that I decided to write about it because my professor told us to write the book you wish you could read. I decided to write the book I wish I had when I was growing up.
Back then, I had a couple books that dealt with having “frenemies,” but honestly most of the books I grew up reading were about groups of girls who were loyal to each other and went on fun adventures. Those books were a great escape, but it was the books where the characters were going through something painful (like being dumped by a friend or ignored by a group of friends) that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in what I was going through. That’s why I decided to write this series.
And the birthday party scene? I have always HATED walking into any event alone. In fact, that continued until I was an adult and it has only been in the last few years that I’ve been semi-okay with it. Thalia’s birthday party is based on one I went to in the fifth grade when my friends were acting distant toward me. They weren’t invited to this girl’s birthday party and I was so anxious that I’d have no one to talk to once I got there. I remember dropping hints to a friend to ride with her to the skating rink because I didn’t have the courage to walk in by myself. Once I got there, I had fun and yes, the gift bag was as awesome as the one Landry got.
Ask your parents or another adult if they ever dealt with that as a kid or even feel that way now. A lot of adults deal with this kind of insecurity and I’ll share a time I went through a similar situation. It was a few years ago when I was invited to my first event in the city where I live now. I had just moved back to the U.S. after living in Europe for three years and I only knew one person who was going to be at this bowling party. I was so nervous and I remember my outfit didn’t look like what the others had one, which made me feel extra insecure. Plus, they were all really good friends and had known each other a long time and I was the new girl. Everyone was nice to me, but I worried that everyone already had their group of friends and they didn’t need a new person joining in.
However, I made an effort to move out of my comfort zone and try and talk to everyone there and you know what? Almost all of those girls are my Facebook friends to this day and I talk to one all the time and she’s become a really good friend. Had I not stepped out of my comfort zone than I never would have made such good friends. Have you ever had to step out of your comfort zone? Write about what happened as result of doing that.
Once again, feel free to post any comments or questions in the comments section. Read chapters 4-6 for the next week’s session.
Intro to the Landry’s True Colors Series
For teachers/parents/grandparents/guardians: As schools are closed down now for social isolation, I thought I’d share some of the group activities I do with readers at presentations and book events for you to use at home. Normally I do these as presentations where I share info and the students or readers can ask questions. I adjusted the usual presentation and questions so they can work for discussions at home with an adult or even if your child wants to do this with friends online. There are also writing exercises that can be shared or used as journaling prompts. These tend to be great ways to discuss what’s going on at school and it can be helpful to have the adults share their own experiences along with them.
Since I often have preteens, teens, and younger kids in the mix, these questions and prompts can be used for different ages. Sometimes younger siblings attend events and I had a teacher’s helper suggest that the younger kids can draw pictures instead of doing the writing exercises, so they can be included as well. Usually the readers for the Landry’s True Colors Series are around ages 10 and up. Landry is in 8th grade, but kids like to “read up” age-wise.
I will have different sets of questions and journaling/discussion prompts up on the blog each week and there will also be a page with all the links if you miss any. If you have any topics or questions you’d like to share, feel free to message me through my contact page on the site.
Readers and students: As you start reading book one, True Colors, keep a notebook to jot down things that you have can relate to or have feelings about as you read. I find people “free write” easier by hand, but feel free to use your tablet, phone, or computer if that feels more natural or just discuss them with an adult or with friends online if you’re doing this with a group. We’ll start by reading chapters 1-3. The first three chapters deal with going through tryouts, fear, friendship issues and frenemies, and a birthday party that’s feels uncomfortable as Landry and Thalia are both trying to find where they fit in. We’ll talk more about the birthday party in the next session.
Here we go!
Landry is anxious as she goes through her first tryout. As much as she’d like to be chosen, she’s also terrified about what could go wrong. Have you ever wanted to try out for a team or maybe audition for a part acting in a play or commercial? Maybe you tried out for something with modeling or even for a TV show like Landry did. She almost let the fear hold her back from doing it. Write about it or discuss what scared you and how you got through that moment. Ask your friends how they’ve dealt with being nervous before a tryout, game, or audition. You might learn something new to help calm your nerves in those situations and you might learn you’re not alone in feeling that way!
If you haven’t tried out for anything, then what is something you’ve thought about doing or trying out for? Write about what it would feel like if you did it starting with waking up in the morning and how you think the day would go. Have fun exploring what life would be like if you got a chance to do the thing you’ve been dreaming about.
Behind the scenes: I wrote about Landry’s modeling reality show TV audition because I used to go on those sorts of things starting in 5th grade. I also did dance tryouts and competitions. I used to get so nervous for the dance auditions and competitions, but not as much for the modeling ones. I would feel sick to my stomach before the dance tryouts. I used to listen to music to keep my mind off things and try to get away from the other girls by either pretending to read in the corner or I’d ask my mom if I could sit in the car with her. Other kids can say some mean girl stuff to knock you off your game and make you even more nervous!
Have you ever had a mean girl say something to make you feel less confident? I sure have and sometimes it kept me from wanting to try out for a bigger role in a dance production. I would want to try for a solo, but those mean girls intimidated me, so I didn’t.
You know what helped though? Focusing on that I could do and focusing on enjoying myself. I was in a smaller tap-dancing class and there were nicer girls in that one, so I decided to work hard, do my best, and just have fun. I would go to each class pretending I was trying out for a music video (that’s why I have a different book series with a girl, Cecily Taylor, who tries out for a music video!). Sometimes I’d pretend I was performing on stage and my celebrity crush and a bunch of producers were out there watching just waiting to make me famous—ha ha!
I gave it my all without worrying about being judged and it paid off because my dance teacher noticed. Now I was always one of the tallest girls in my dance classes and that means they stick you in the back or in the middle so it looks better on stage when you’re performing with shorter girls. (Just like Landry, I wanted to be shorter than I was! I used to dream I’d stop growing or somehow I'd wake up and be several inches shorter. I thought 5’4 was the perfect height and I wanted to shrink!) Anyway, I was so excited when my teacher put me in the front row dead center for our tap performance on stage at the recital that year. It was one of the few times I wasn’t nervous for a recital and I danced my little heart out!
I’m glad I didn’t let fear hold me back on doing those things, but I admit that I did let fear and judgement keep me from trying out for a dance team that I really wanted to be part of when I was a teenager. I didn’t do it because all the girls on the team (and the ones trying out) were…well, not known to be the nicest people. Some of them were mean girls and even acted that way to each other even though they were supposed to be friends. Those kinds of friends are known as, “frenemies,” and Landry encounters those, too. I was too intimidated to try out because I wasn’t sure I could handle it because some of those same girls had made my contemporary dance classes miserable. In fact, I used to try to fade in the background so I wouldn’t be a target of their meanness.
Have you ever gone through an experience where mean girls made you shy away from doing something you really wanted to do? Write about it or discuss it out loud.
Feel free to share your posts in the comments if you’d like. Next time we’ll talk about Thalia’s birthday party, so feel free to put any questions or comments below about that as well and I will answer as many questions as I can.
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20 to 40 million people currently live as slaves. Over 60% are women and children like Faith Donovan in Ayden K. Morgen's new release, Kill for You. To help end human trafficking and slavery, Ayden is donating 100% of release day (March 17th) proceeds from the book to Operation Underground Railroad (@OURRescue), a global nonprofit that rescues child victims of human trafficking and then works to prosecute and convict perpetrators.
Grab the book from your favorite retailer today (March 17th) to help support this incredible cause!
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About Kill for You
The last thing Detective Octavio Hernandez expects to find at the scene of a mass gang-related shooting is a brown-eyed angel standing bravely in the midst of the chaos. One look at Faith Donovan and the homicide detective knows there's more to her than meets the eye. She's keeping secrets that just might help bring down Los Zetas, one of the biggest drug cartels in Los Angeles.
He just has to convince her that trusting him is worth the risk.
Forced upon a mother who didn't want her and enslaved by a gang that refuses to let her go without a fight, Faith's life has never been her own. She thought she'd made peace with her fate…until Octavio sweeps in and carries her out of her blood-soaked cage.
Faith trusts no one, but the hardened detective makes it difficult to remember why. The way he cares for her makes her ache for what she never thought she'd find: love and a family of her own. But trusting him when she knows he has an ulterior motive is one of the most difficult things she'll ever do.
He swore to give her the freedom she craves, but when the secrets she holds paint a target on her back, keeping that promise will prove no easy feat.
To secure her freedom and win her heart, this detective will move mountains. And take down anyone standing in his way.
Kill for You is the second book in a series of interconnected full-length novels featuring law enforcement officers willing to do whatever it takes to protect the women who need them most. Each book can be read as a standalone, has no cheating, and a guaranteed HEA.
I'm really excited to share with you a short coming of age romance from Ayden K. Morgen! You can get your copy with the link below. Enjoy!
THE YEARS BETWEEN US
Escape from quarantine into this short coming-of-age romance from bestselling author Ayden K. Morgen. In 'The Years Between Us', Logan is everything Hope wanted...but falling in love is anything but easy when years stand like a canyon between you. ⠀
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About the Book:
The first time Hope Tollison met bad boy Logan Redfield, he turned her world upside down. The connection between the two of them was everything she never knew she was missing and more. But Hope waited years for Logan to give her the first kiss she's dreamed about. Instead, he may become her first heartbreak.
Ayden K. Morgen
Romance and Fantasy Authorhttp://akmorgen.com
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Journey to the Cross by Mary Carver and from (in)courage
Journey to the Cross is a 40 day devotional meant to be used during Lent. It has devotionals that vary from day to day, so you might have one day with questions to reflect and another with more space to dive deeper and journal on as you read, one with scripture, and another with just a simple prayer. The illustrations are lovely and there’s a lot of encouragement as you go through Lent. I’ve used other devotionals, but this is my first one I’ve had that includes journaling space and it’s quite nice to have questions to use for deeper reflection. There’s a lot of focus on what God is trying to teach you and a page at the beginning of the book to write those down along with a tracker to help stay on track throughout the 40 days.
A few of the questions the subjects the book has for journaling deal with focusing on what’s around you (paying attention to nature and also things that are lovely), areas to work on, focusing on God’s faithfulness, sin, and temptation.
Although Lent has started, I would encourage getting this devotional as it is a great reflective tool to start using this season or anytime during the year. It encourages you to carve out alone time with the Lord. This is a wonderful tool to use for Lent and even though I’m filling it out this year, I know I will use it again next year as well.
* I was given a review copy by B&H Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review
Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Star Series, Dating the It Guy, & Can Dreams Come True