This past week we read 10-13 for next time. The previous sessions can be found here:
In this section, Landry is feeling insecure after what happened with her friends in the previous section. She goes as far as to ask to stay home from school and we see struggle to find a place to sit at lunch. After lunch, she hides out in the library with a book to escape into. Have you been in that situation before where you weren’t sure where to sit at lunch or maybe you hid out in the library or a lab at school? Or maybe you pretended to not feel well to stay home because of some friend drama going on at school. Write about a time you were stressed out about school and what you did to escape. Did it help?
The Valentine’s Day section shows us that Landry gives cards to people she thinks might not get a lot of valentines. We see Hana say the year before she only received 2. We know Tad hands out cards to everyone in the class, but at the end of the day he thanks her for her card as it’s the only one he received. We also find out that although Thalia didn’t get many cards, some of the boys stole them and ate the candy meant for her. Landry sits on the bus watching the popular girl Yasmin with a full bag of cards and candy. Landry realizes that even though she didn’t get as much stuff as Yasmin, at least hers were from real friends instead of some of the fake friends or frenemies in Yasmin’s crew.
How do you feel about this section of the book? Do you prefer to have a lot of friends and big numbers of followers on social media or would you prefer to have a couple of close besties and not a big following online? Write out your reasons.
Next, the girls get ready for cheerleading tryouts for the high school next year. Landry is already terrified about the idea of high school, but she realizes she could lose Ashanti to the cheerleaders next year if she makes the team. Still, she decides to support Ashanti.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were afraid you might lose a friend to a new activity, team, or group they were interested in? Write about what happened and how you felt. Did you end up being worried for no reason or did you and your friend drift apart?
In chapter 13, Landry is filmed getting her hair cut for the American Ingenue show. However, she’s made to feel pretty insecure by the way the stylists talk about her.
Write down how they describe her and then share how it makes you feel reading that scene. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it? Did their words influence how you feel about yourself? Journal about that and if you feel comfortable, share it with a trusted adult. Ask if they’ve ever felt like that.
Behind the scenes: One of the reasons I have Landry uncomfortable around Tori is to show that friendships do change and sometimes we grow apart. This happened with me and I also dealt with a friendship where we drifted apart because we had different interests. This friend was joining a team in high school that would be taking a lot of her time, but there had already been some cracks in our friendship foundation. Even though we got through that situation, I still felt maybe this wasn’t the healthiest friendship for me. I also felt like sometimes I was in a supporting role in the friendship. I don’t mean to say it was one-sided, but sometimes I didn’t feel seen by other people in that friendship.
When we got to the next school, I decided that I wanted to actively meet new people instead of just staying in my safe group of friends. It was a huge step for me out of my comfort zone because I was going from a very small school to a huge one where it seemed like everyone already knew one another from their previous school.
However, taking that step helped me to meet new people and find people who I fit in with better. Here I wasn’t always in the supporting role, but felt supported as well. Balance is always a positive thing in a friendship and today many of the girls who I became friends with that first month are still people I’m friends with today. It was a step out of my comfort zone, but I was lucky enough to meet people willing to let me into their already established friendship groups as well.
I just had a birthday recently and I smiled seeing names pop up to wish me happy birthday and those were the same people that welcomed me during that first scary week of my freshmen year. I will be forever grateful to them. I worried that it was safer for me to stay in my safe zone with the people I knew for a long time, but stepping out helped me to form bonds and friendships that are still strong today.
Right now, you may be back in school or doing school online. This week I’d like you to reach out to 3 people you normally don’t message or talk to often just to check in and see how they’re doing with everything that’s going on. Then reach out to 3 people you would like to get to know better. Then message 3 who you think might need to hear from a friendly voice. You might end up making a closer friend or starting up a friendship from this.
Read chapters 14-16 for next time. The previous sessions can be found here:
The Endless Story: Explaining Life and Death to Children
by Melissa Kircher
Blurb: The Endless Story examines death in a way that is frank, but gentle - talking about why people die and what happens to our bodies when we pass. The book explores traditions of remembrance and diverse ideas about a possible afterlife including reincarnation, energy, soul, heaven, and Mother Nature - ending with Love. The Endless Story invites children to engage in dialogue with their parents or caregivers about this weighty topic, providing them with information and engaging their imaginations with unique, colorful artwork.
1. Tell me about your book, The Endless Story: Explaining Life and Death to Children
The Endless Story is a children’s picture book that aims to be a resource for children and their caregivers about the process of death and dying. I wanted to create a book that allowed children to access facts about life, death, and science in a gentle way—asking them questions as well as providing scientific answers about why we die and what happens to our bodies when we die. I also found that many books about death and grieving were from one religious standpoint. I thought it was important to talk about the myriad of afterlife ideas and diverse traditions around remembrance. Overall, I wanted the book to focus on love, the love we have for people in our lives, and how that love carries on after death.
2. What inspired you to write it?
One rainy day my daughter, son, and I were snuggled up in bed together, and my four-year-old daughter asked, “Mommy, does everyone die? Will Yaya (her grandmother) die? Will Miss Debbie (a close family friend) die?” I was caught off-guard and answered her, “Well, do you want the truth, or do you want me to lie? The lie will make you feel better.” It was not my best parenting moment! My brave girl looked me square in the eye and said, “I want to know the truth.” Together we talked about death and I did my best to answer her questions. The idea for the book was born from our discussion. During our talk, my five-year-old proceeded to find one of my sketchbooks and draw red ink all over a nicely finished illustration! He was not as comfortable with death. Over time, I’ve seen how providing my children with truth, facts, allowing them to ask a ton of questions, and leaving space for mystery is so helpful for their emotional development.
3. Can you share the process that went into the illustrations?
Sure! After I wrote the book, I had to map everything out on cards, making sure that words and potential illustrations would flow and fit within the publishing constraints. As I decided which paragraphs would be on each page, the images started coming into my mind. Diversity and representation was and is very important to me. My son is adopted and black. We are a mixed-race family, and there are not enough picture books that show adults and children with a myriad of skin colors, especially racial diversity within family groups. Keeping this important goal in mind, I created the illustrations in my signature style of dark lines and vibrant colors. It was a joy to draw some of the science and nature pictures and come up with visual ways to capture the varied ideas about an afterlife. My two favorite pages are the cover with a mother and daughter surrounded by nature and a swirling effect meant to portray the endless circle of life and death and love, and the page where I have a heart flower blooming into “bird petals” that fly away. There was a good deal of thought and care that went into the art for this book!
4. What ages of children do you think would most be helped by reading it?
The intended reading ages are from 3-10. However, I’ve had people of all ages write and tell me how much the book has impacted them. One young married couple lost both of their fathers within a short time. They bought The Endless Story for their children to help explain grief, but then a friend ended up reading it to them out loud, story-time style at their kitchen table one night. The friend wrote to me and told me the adults sat and cried as she went through the book with them. I am humbled and touched that children, teens, and adults have used this book to process death and grieving.
5. Anything else you’d like to add:
Thank you for having me on your blog! We, as a connected world entity, are going through tremendous upheavals, change, and loss. The Covid-19 virus has altered the way we think about life and death, taking our lives and loves more seriously. I grieve with collective humanity for the loss of life we’ve suffered thus far and will continue to lose until a safe vaccine is developed. I’m also glad that this passion project of mine can be used in any way to help children and their parents through this time. I hope we come out of this more connected and more filled with love for each other. -Melissa
Bio: Melissa Kircher is a writer, artist, and Enneagram Coach who enjoys everything bold and beautiful. Her artwork has been exhibited in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York City. Kircher is a licensed artist with Sorelle Gallery Fine Art and a member of Women Who Draw, a directory of professional female illustrators. She is the author of The War Inside, The Gray Horizon, and Dream On, novels for young adults. She has also published a non-fiction book on marriage and authored and illustrated a children’s picture book about death, The Endless Story. She has worked for clients such as The New York Graphic Society, Relevant Magazine, Group Magazine, and EBSCO Publishing, and sees clients daily in her Enneagram Coaching practice. Melissa lives and works in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Instagram: @melissakircher & @enneagrampaths
Twitter: @MelisKircher & @enneagrampaths
Websites: www.melissakircher.com & www.enneagrampaths.com
Watch my interview on Power Kids
with author/publisher/speaker Valerie J. Lewis Coleman where we talk about kid lit, writing, our book inspirations, and more.
You can read more about Valerie J. Lewis Coleman here:
This week we read chapters 7-9 for next time. (The previous sessions can be found here: www.krystenlindsay.com/reading-guide.html.)
In chapter 7, Landry goes to the bus stop and is eager to tell her friends Ericka and Tori about getting to hang out with the guy she likes at the basketball game. How does she feel after talking to them? Then she sits with Ashanti on the bus who has a different reaction to Landry’s news as well as how Tori and Ericka reacted to her news. What do you notice about the different ways the girls react? Have you ever been in a situation where you were excited to share news with a friend, but they made you feel like it wasn’t a big deal and maybe even made you doubt yourself? Think back to when your friends share things with you. Do you always listen and show enthusiasm? How do your friends react to your good news?
In chapter 8, Landry and Devon are talking about Devon’s night at the next basketball game. How does Landry react when she hears Vladi asked about her? Does she listen to Devon and ask how she was feeling?
Later, Landry talks to her mom about relationship as she wonders how often guys who like you get in contact. How does she react to hearing her Dad still messages her mom every day? Did that surprise you or not and why? Ashanti also gets a call or message every day from Jay. What does that tell you about their relationships?
At the end of the chapter Landry, India, Peyton, and Devon go shopping and find the crystal butterfly necklaces. The girls talk about all getting one together and Landry immediately says she’s going to save up and get Ashanti one, too, for her birthday. If you read the first book, True Colors, what does this necklace scene have in common with the best friend bracelet scene and what is different about it? Have you ever had a best friend accessory with someone? Write about your experience as we’ll talk more about it in the upcoming sessions.
In chapter 9, Landry gets put in a difficult position when she and Peyton run into India who is hanging out with the boy that Devon likes. India asks her not to say anything about it to Devon, but Landry feels Devon deserves the truth…and then it all backfires. How did you feel reading the scene where Landry overhears Devon and India turning Peyton against her? Landry did what she felt was right, but now it’s being turned and used against her.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? Maybe a friend asked you to keep a secret, but you didn’t think it was right to keep that info from someone it could hurt. Write about a time you went through something like that. Would you do anything different if you could do it all over again?
At the end of the chapter Landry has Thalia over to spend the night. How is this different from when she hangs out with her other friends? Why do you think she picked Thalia and why do you think they played with her old doll from when she was younger?
Behind the scenes: I felt sick when I wrote the scene where Landry overhears Devon and India talking to Peyton because I lived through something similar. The situation was different, but I brought all those emotions to the scene and you know what? I even felt ill rereading it! There were a few times where people have put me in an uncomfortable position by asking me to keep information to myself that could potentially hurt someone. When I was in middle school, I overheard that there were some people talking about a friend. I wasn’t there, but the people who told me were honest people and what they heard was pretty mean-spirited stuff. So later, when that friend asked if I heard those friends talked about her, I told her the truth. And just like with Landry the very people doing the wrong thing twisted it to make me look like I was trying to cause trouble. It went very badly for me and when I made the mistake of saying there were witnesses…hoo boy did that make it worse!
I wrote all those cringe-y feelings into that scene because I want you to know I have been there and you know what? I wouldn’t do anything different. I told the truth and I stuck to it. Recently someone asked me not to tell someone and I said that they should tell the person themselves. There are times when there are little secrets that aren’t a big deal, but in cases where people’s feelings could get hurt then what do you do? Always look to the truth because when you look back on it, you won’t regret doing the right thing.
Years ago, I admit I did wish I had kept my mouth shut and then people wouldn’t have gotten mad at me. It was pretty awful and it left scars—I mean, I remembered it well enough to use those emotions in a book! But I now look back and wonder if the girl in question didn’t go along with the other ones pretending I was trying to cause trouble because it was easier to go along with them saying I had made it up to cause trouble than to admit the truth—that people she trusted were talking badly about her. Looking back on it, I can see how painful that must have been for her to find out the truth. So yes, I have been there, and it didn’t go well for me back then, but I can safely tell you to hold onto your integrity and you won’t regret it.
Read chapters 10-13 for next time. The previous sessions can be found here: www.krystenlindsay.com/reading-guide.html
I'm so excited to have author, publisher, and speaker, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman on the blog today. I have learned so much from her writer boot camps. And later today I will be on her Power Kids show (link at the bottom). Check out this interview to learn more about her work!
Tell us about your children’s book, Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me.
Having published over 130 authors, Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me is my first children’s book. The theme: encouraging children; especially girls of color, to dream big regarding career aspirations. The target age is easy readers (ages five to ten); however, toddlers and pre-K students love it. #ThingsICanBe debuted as a Kindle Top 50 Bestseller, landed all 5-star reviews and won several awards. A Reader’s Favorite reviewer compared it to Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Woohoo!
Astronaut. Ballerina. Chef. Doctor. What do you want to be?
Samara and Lyric are cousins who love to visit their grandmother, MeMe. The girls talk about all the wonderful things they want to be. Their self-esteem and confidence grow as they learn about women who have done what they hope to do.
Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me was inspired by a grandmother’s conversations with her granddaughters. Filled with historical pioneers and modern-day trailblazers, this picture book empowers girls of color by providing examples of successful women who look like them.
To Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, every conversation with a child is an opportunity to teach. Whether basic life skills, kindness or career aspirations, she encourages her grandbabies and other children to be the best they can be. ThingsICanBe.com
What inspired you to write the book?
My granddaughters, Samara and Lyric! Because they live in different states, I have limited in-person time with them. When we are together, I incorporate fun and learning to create fond memories and traditions. I am left-brain dominate and taught my sons problem solving, critical thinking and reasoning. I want my grandchildren to have similar skills so I am intentional about imparting my wisdom and life experience to reinforce their father’s teachings. These quotes guide my efforts personally and professionally.
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
“What we do now echoes in eternity.”
Tell us about your POWER Kids Live on Facebook where you interview children’s lit writers.
All of my live events were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. I was scheduled to speak in San Antonio, Detroit, Charlotte, Atlanta and throughout Ohio. To offset the effects of the corona virus, and to stay connected with readers, I launched POWER Kids Live (Facebook.com/ValerieJLewisColeman). Once a week, I speak with children’s book authors about their publishing process. Although my intent is to expand everyone’s reach through cross promotion, unexpected benefits like resources, unique marketing strategies and online features (blogs, read alouds and interviews) have been viable byproducts.
“You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough people get what they want.”
You write books, but you also work with authors to help their book publishing dreams come true. Can you tell us about your company, Pen of the Writer?
I serve my clients with years of experience and repeatable, proven results like book sales, paid speaking engagements and media attention through Pen of the Writer. With offerings that span the continuum of do-it-yourself Self-Publishing Made Easy workbooks; to show-me-how-to-do-it mentoring and training; to do-it-for-me publishing with Queen V Publishing, thousands of writers are now published authors.
I also host live events to connect readers with authors. Before the pandemic, I had confirmed book signings at libraries, prisons, churches and schools. Once the world reaches a new normal, I will revisit these opportunities.
For years, you hosted the wonderful Dayton Book Expo, which I loved being a part of, by the way! Now you have a new event called, Pen of the Writer (POWER) Book Fest. What are your plans for this new book fest?
Dayton Book Expo ran for ten years. In that time, about 700 authors connected to thousands of readers. Top-selling authors like you, Krysten, won crystal plaques, book medallions and promotions. The venue, Sinclair’s Ponitz Conference Center, was amazing. The family-friendly event included a designated area for children, workshops for aspiring authors and book signings. The last few years, I added a media center of independent show hosts to garner more attention for authors. I received invitations from libraries and other cities to replicate the experience and won the Trailblazer Award for literary excellence. I loved the citywide event; however, it needed a major revamp. Thus, Pen Of the WritER (POWER) Book Fest was born.
One of the invitations came from another small business owner, Valerie McKinney-Walker. She hosts The Indulge Event as a one-stop shopping experience. Venders include artists, caterers and other entrepreneurs. Valerie asked me to collaborate with her by creating a literary experience featuring authors. By sharing space, marketing and expenses, our combined efforts will create the first-of-its-kind event in Dayton. Indulge with POWER (our collective name) was rescheduled from May 2020 to May 2021.
Some aspects of the expo will carry over to POWER BOOK Fest: author signings, workshops and POWER Kids area sponsored by Mobile Mommies. In addition to the new partnership, differences include the addition of a Friday-night experience with live entertainment, wine tasting and exclusive shopping, new venue: Montgomery County Fairgrounds and more shoppers.
To satisfy demand for quality self-published books, my intentions are to make POWER Book Fest a mobile event connecting with readers in multiple cities.
What are some of your favorite books?
My sixth grade teacher read The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton to the class. I fell in love with the characters and tried to write my version of a novel. I lost interest when I shifted point of view from third-person to first-person (although I didn’t know the “technical” name).
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a favorite because his ability to construct imagery was amazing. I still remember the scene of the marlin emerging out of the sea from this required high school read.
The Shack by William P. Young had great imagery and sensory detail. The author propelled me into the story with his page-turning style.
What are you working on now?
The demand on my time is growing, so I am creating online courses to give aspiring authors 24/7 indirect access to me. I have nine work-in-progress books for Queen V Publishing clients. To reduce turnaround time, I am hiring sub-contractors for formatting and editing.
As for my books, I plan to publish the Spanish translation and library edition of Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me. Later this year, I will start another illustrated children’s book to honor my grandson and compile an anthology of men of power, prominence and prayer.
I held the first Free Your Mind and the Words will Follow Writers Retreat in a private mountain lodge last year. This year, the retreat will be virtual. I plan to host the three-day event in November using Zoom. Look for details at FreeYourMindWritersRetreat.com.
To Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, every conversation with a child is an opportunity to teach. Whether basic life skills, kindness or career aspirations, she encourages her grandbabies and other children to be the best they can be. ThingsICanBe.com
As a best-selling author and award-winning publisher, Valerie serves professional speakers and experts to magnify and monetize their message by publishing quality books. With over fifteen years of experience in the book business, she has published more than 130 authors and helped thousands of writers navigate the challenges of self-publishing. This expert divulges industry secrets on avoiding the top five mistakes made by 95% of new authors, pricing your book to sell and identifying shady publishers. Her dynamic presentation and knowledge of the business takes writers from pen to paper to published as they master self-publishing to make money! PenOfTheWriter.com
Social Media links
Facebook.com/valeriejlewiscoleman (fan page for #ThingsICanBe)
I will be on Valerie's show, Power Kids, on August 18th!
#POWERKids encourages children to read by providing beautiful books, stunning stories and amazing authors.
Join us for the Facebook Live Tuesday, August 18 7 PM EST
Join me on Monday, August 17th!
LIVE SCBWI Panel: Across the Genres - The World Of Children's Books
Join the Ohioana Book Festival and the Central & Southern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for a live panel featuring Ohio authors and illustrators Krysten Lindsay Hager, Aiko Ikegami, Samuel Narh, and Julie Rubini! This free special event will take place from 7:00 - 8:30 pm on August 17, 2020 via Zoom.
From picture books and illustration to middle grade and young adult titles, the panelists will discuss their books and craft, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the wide world of children's publishing. A live audience Q&A will also be included in this evening of kidlit fun!
Please note, authors are subject to availability.
Find it here: www.eventbrite.com/e/scbwi-panel-across-the-genres-the-world-of-childrens-books-tickets-116652413509
For more information about the Ohioana Book Festival, visit: ohioana.org
I will be on Power Kids on August 18th!
#POWERKids encourages children to read by providing beautiful books, stunning stories and amazing authors.
Join us for the Facebook Live Tuesday, August 18 7 PM EST at www.facebook.com/valeriejlewiscoleman
#ThingsICanBe #PenOfTheWriter #childrensbook #write #read
Author Louise Lennox is here to talk about her latest book!
Tell us about your new book.
Craving a King tells the story of Kofi, a young, good looking Ashanti King dedicated to leading his people and duty-bound to his kingdom, and Ella, a smart, ambitious African-American education expert and leader of a charter school network. They unexpectedly fall in love and a question about Kofi’s ability to rule with ambitious Ella as his queen comes into play. Throughout the story Kofi is presented with the decision to prioritize his woman or his crown.
The novel offers readers the characteristically descriptive lustfulness of romance novels but presents readers with something more –intelligent characters, who are each respected and capable in their own right. Rather than the tired stereotypes of a damsel in distress or the brooding hero in need of emotional coaxing, the characters come to love each other as equals, making their encounters all the more passionate and alluring.
What was your inspiration for writing it?
“Craving A King” is my heartbeat. I wanted my debut romance novel to really explore the themes of love and ambition across the African diaspora. I myself am married to a Ghanaian American man with an Ashanti heritage.
I also wanted to read about characters that I could relate to and respect. Romantic stories of women falling in love with princes and kings are appealing to almost every woman, but most stories never include Black women. That’s largely because the royalty portrayed is generally European. I wanted to change that. Craving a King’s royal is West African and Kofi and Ella are people we want to be or want to meet. Their dreams, hopes and conflicts add complexity to their characters, drawing the reader in, and letting them experience the excitement of every touch, every kiss, every moment.
What are 5 books you think everyone should read (fiction, non-fiction, or a mix)?
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Black Sexual Politics by Patricia Hill Collins
The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall
Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince
If you could invite any famous person (in history or celebrity, living or deceased) to have dinner, who would you pick and why? Feel free to pick more than one!
Michelle Obama because she is fierce!
What was the biggest lesson you learned writing "Craving a King?'
That as long as I write what I love, there will always be a book inside me. The moment I stopped trying to write to market is the moment I started to produce books and stories worth sharing!
I know you love to travel. Where are some of your favorite places you’ve been? And which place surprised you the most?
My number one spot is Istanbul! I’ve been twice! Once as a guest on Oprah’s trip of a Lifetime in 2009 and once again with my friends in 2013. Both times were equally amazing and the food and shopping are incomparable.
To be honest Huntington, Beach California surprised me the most! I am a huge fan of southern California and the beaches. I never thought of myself as a beach person until that trip!
What is your writing process? Describe how you get to "the end."
I’m a plotter all the way! Once I have the idea, I find the stock photo of my couple. Then I write out their character profiles. Next, I plot out the story scene by scene in Scrivener. I get to the end by writing for exactly one hour every night. I can write an 80,000-word novel in 6-8 weeks.
What was the book you read that made you want to be a writer? How old were you at the time?
Cynthia Voight’s entire Tillerman saga. Homecoming changed my life when I was ten!
Best Friends…Forever? Session Two
Last week we read chapters 4-6. You can find the previous sessions here: www.krystenlindsay.com/reading-guide.html
In Chapter 4 Landry has a nice visit with her grandparents and then stops at the big department store to check out the decorations. She goes to the Little Rose Cosmetics counter and she gets taken in by the gorgeous ads. The models for that makeup company always look amazing and she looks up what colors they’re using and buys them to try and replicate the look on herself, but it doesn’t look the same on her. She looks washed out and even her mother asks if she’s feeling okay.
I stared at my washed-out complexion in the mirror. The lip gloss almost made my mouth disappear. Why couldn't I look like Talisa or the girls at school who didn't even need lipstick or gloss? Why couldn't I look like anybody but me?
Have you ever felt like Landry does and wished to look like someone else? Who did you pick and why did you pick them? Make a list of the reasons and we’ll come back to it at another time when we get more into the series.
In chapter 5, Landry goes to exchange the lip gloss, but the lady working at the cosmetics counter doesn’t make her feel very good about herself.
I started to say I wanted something natural-looking when she cut me off. "Well, not too natural, or you'll look washed out. You're so fair. You need some color to liven you up," she said. "I don't think natural is the right look for you." I felt like asking for the dead-looking lip gloss back so I could go home and not feel worse about myself.
The woman continues to make comments about Landry and she starts feeling worse and worse about herself.
I thought I was looking pretty good when I left the apartment. Suddenly I felt like a big puddle of nothing.
When I was first starting out with makeup, my friends and I would go to this one makeup counter and ask for help picking out colors and every once in a while we’d get a salesperson like this one who made you feel worse about how you looked and then we’d buy more and more makeup to cover up the spots they pointed out we had, the blotchiness, the oiliness, etc. What I didn’t pick up on at the time was that there was no money to be made in telling us we looked fine just the way we were. But there was a lot of money to be made in feeling like we had to cover up our skin with thick foundation because it looked too awful for anyone to see our huge pores, acne, and redness. But at the time we didn’t see that.
Even now I have friends who go to buy one thing and come out with a whole bag full because the lighting in the store made them look bad and the salesperson made them feel worse about how they looked. And notice what Landry’s mom says:
"They always make you feel bad about yourself so you'll buy more of their products."
"Yeah, why else do you think they critique you so much when you're just trying to buy gloss? You walk up feeling okay about yourself and slink away feeling like a hideous troll who can only be saved by eighty dollars or more of products," she said.
Have you ever had an experience like that? Write about how it made you feel. Then pretend you’re the person working behind the makeup counter and someone who looks just like you comes to the store to buy something. What would you tell them? How would you treat them?
We saw how Landry felt ignored by her cousin Lucy and that her modeling jobs weren’t exciting enough as Lucy didn’t seem interested. However, Landry’s dad tells her that Lucy actually was very interested in it.
What did you learn from this and what Mrs. Albright has to say about it? Write about how you feel about what Landry’s mom tells her about being supportive. Have you had any experiences like that?
Mrs. Albright points out the competition thing about the one model being the, “new Talisa.” Landry’s dad points out they do the same competition thing with guys. He tells her, “Just do your best and be yourself.” Adults always give advice like that and I’m sure you rolled your eyes when your read it just like I did back when I heard it. But now I can see the wisdom in it. Back when I was Landry’s age I definitely could not though because I didn’t appreciate what I had to offer.
Have you ever felt that way? Take a minute to list things about yourself that you do like. Then ask a trusted friend if they’d share five things they admire or like about you and then do that for them. And really listen to what they say and why. It’s very easy to blow it off and say, “oh it’s not big deal,” but write it down to reflect on the next time you feel bad about yourself.
In chapter 6, Landry invites Thalia over for a sleepover. Thalia gets picked on a bit and she is someone who doesn’t care what other people think about her. Sometimes her openness about that makes Landry uncomfortable. Why do you think that is? Does is make you uncomfortable?
Behind the scenes: By the way, did you notice the sweater scene back at school? That’s also based on something that happened to me at my old school. So if you’re keeping track, I got in trouble for bright colored socks and a sweater that wasn’t one of the “acceptable” shades of blue in my school uniform. What a rebel I was, right? Ha ha! And yes, my eyes filled up with tears, too, because my grandma bought me that sweater for me to wear to school.
In this section there’s a lot with being made to feel bad about your appearance so you buy more stuff, comparing yourself to impossible beauty standards, and having someone be themselves and that makes you uncomfortable when they get picked on for it.
Yes, I went through all of it and I bet if you asked some other adults who have bought makeup, they would have similar experiences. Once I got to high school, I used to get up so early to do my makeup. I never went to class without full makeup on because I had been told I had such oily skin that I should always wear foundation and powder. For years I spent my allowance on this fancy foundation that’s meant to be used to conceal any blemishes for photo shoots. It was thick and it would break me out if I left it on too long. Sure, I had some breakouts and I will admit I had the oiliest skin on the planet, but did I need to slather on foundation to cover up my skin? Probably not.
Interestingly, when I was in grad school, I got sick right before spring break and during that time I was at home and not putting on makeup or moisturizer, or using skin care treatments. Just plain old face wash and water. Guess whose skin completely cleared up during that? Yup, all that time of not wearing makeup and being too exhausted to do any masks or skin care treatments and my skin looked better than ever. I had basically been clogging my pores with the very products I thought were going to make me pretty. Whoops.
And guess who told me that I was putting too much on my face and I didn’t need all of those products? My grandmother. The same woman who only wore a touch of powder, blush, and lipstick and had beautiful skin in her eighties. You’d think I would have listened, but for some reason it was easier for me to listen to someone at a makeup counter who poked at all my little insecurities and convinced me how flawless I’d look if I just bought this…and this…and that…
So take some time to write about how those scenes made you feel and see if you’ve noticed anyone in your life making you feel less than pretty.
Read chapters 7-9 for next time. The previous sessions can be found here: www.krystenlindsay.com/reading-guide.html
Young adult author Mindy McGinnis interviewed me on her blog today. You can find the interview over on her website at:
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.