Happy Holidays, Smart Girls!I hope everyone is finding ways to stay peaceful and chill during this strange time in our history. There’s so much talk these days about recession doom and gloom, and it’s all-too-easy to get sucked up into that way of thinking. But really, what’s the point? We can’t control what’s happening in the economy. But we can control how we choose to think and feel about what’s going on.
So, I’ve been focusing on thinking positive thoughts – doing my thankful lists every night, spending time with friends, and putting my energy into fun, creative projects. Smart Girls Know is one of those fun projects, so I’m sending out the last SGK newsletter for 2008! And as this year draws to a close, I wanted to mention a few things I’m especially grateful for:
- my wonderful family, all the way from my fabulous main squeeze down to my dog Baxter
- my fantastic friends, who have reminded me that I’m never alone
- YOU, the young women in my life who share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams with me
- my community of YA authors and other amazingly cool women, which makes me feel incredibly supported
- the opportunity to create a cool, new book series for teens
- inspiring music
- cozy, wool knee-highs
- my love of running
- Strawberry Twizzlers
Thinking about all the things I’m grateful for is a great reminder all the positive in my life. So how about you? I challenge you to grab a piece of paper or open your journal, and jot down at least 5 things you’re grateful for in 2008. It’s a nice way to end the year on a high note as you shift your focus towards the things you hope to see happen in 2009!
And now, without further ado, here is December’s Smart Girls Know Newsletter, featuring:
- Affirmation of the Month: Smart Girls Know How To Be Real
- Ashoka’s Youth Venture Needs Your Help
- This Month’s Must Read: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl
- Interview with author Tanya Lee Stone
- Teen Memoir Update
Peace & Love, Debbie
Affirmation: Smart Girls Know How to Be Real
Has anyone ever told you to get real? Maybe they were just using an expression, like “get outta here” or “are your serious?” Or maybe they were saying it’s time to actually get real in life.
Getting real is all about letting it all hang out, and no, I’m not talking about skipping the bra or getting a day pass at a nudist camp. I’m talking about being ourselves all the time.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, truly being ourselves doesn’t come naturally to many of us. We’re too worried about how other people will think of us, perceive us, and judge us.
It might be easier to talk about being real by seeing what it looks like to not be real. Here are some examples:
- censoring what you do and say when you’re meeting someone new until you get a better sense of who they are
- holding back at something you’re really good at because you don’t want to come across like you think you’re all that
- only talking about the great things in your life, and staying mum about your challenges, disappointments, and failures
The problem with not being real is that it holds us back in our relationships. Think about it. If we’re always focused on controlling how others view us, they’ll never get to know who we really are. And chances are, the people around us won’t let us in on their real life either.
So, why not try “getting real” and see how it feels for you? You just might find that your refreshing and open approach to life will become infectious! Here’s how to start:
- ignore that voice in your head that tells you what you’re saying isn’t important or interesting
- remember that being open about the things you’re good at doesn’t mean you’re bragging…you’re being honest
- share your disappointments and challenges with other people…reminding them you’re not perfect will help them feel better about not being perfect, too!
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You Can Change the World
Smart girls have the power to change the world, and that’s why Smart Girls Know is partnering with entrepreneurial organization Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Best Buy Co., Inc.. Together, these organizations have created the Best Buy @15 Challenge, which empowers teens ages 13 – 18 to see their ideas for social change come to life.
Now they need you to vote among the 30 finalists to choose the Venture Team project that shines when it comes to creativity, community impact, and sustainability. You can vote online voting through January 9, 2009. Fifteen winning teams of youth social entrepreneurs will each receive $10,000 from the @15 Fund to support their ventures.
What’s in it for you, you ask (besides using your power for good)? Voters can register to win a free iPod shuffle and $500 to donate to their school or favorite nonprofit. In addition, funding is available through this partnership for 300 additional youth-led Venture Teams in the United States.
Find out more here!
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This Month’s MUST READ! A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
I just finished reading Tanya Stone’s powerful debut novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (couldn’t put it down actually), and have to share it as this month’s must read.
A Bad Boy tells the story of three different high school girls – Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva – who unfortunately all fall prey to a charming senior with smooth moves who wants to sexually conquer as many girls as he can. Luckily, his first victim, Josie, realizes she’s being played before she makes a mistake she won’t be able to take back. She decides to warn other girls at the school about the good-looking predator by scrawling an anonymous note in the one library book she knows all the girls in school eventually read – Judy Blume’s Forever. She ends her warning, Forewarned is forearmed. Forever. Despite the rumors circulating around school and the Forever note, Nicolette and Aviva still get swept up in the boy’s game, and learn painful lessons as a result.
A Bad Boy isn’t one of those happily ever after books – parts of it are painful to read and the girls’ experiences are told in powerful verse that will leave your heart aching – but ultimately it shares with the reader the importance of trusting our gut, believing in ourselves, and knowing we’re worth it.
When author Tanya Lee Stone was asked what she hopes young women know about themselves for the book’s reading guide, she answered, “That they trust themselves. That they should listen to their own voice and not doubt it so much. That they can make mistakes and still be okay. Sometimes you have to take a misstep in order to learn what the right next step is. Following your own instincts will always serve you better than following someone else’s.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
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Meet Tanya Lee Stone
Author of A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl Tanya Lee Stone took time out from her writing schedule to chat with Smart Girls Know:
SGK: What is it about writing for teens that appeals to you?
Tanya: Being a teen is simultaneously one of the most exciting and angst-ridden times of life. There’s so much built-in tension, conflict, introspection. It was a great time of life for me and I enjoy reflecting upon it. And creating YA characters is rife with possibilities.
SGK: Is the story (or part of it) based on your own experiences with a bad boy?
Tanya: I certainly had my share of noxious experiences with guys, but none of the specific plot points of the story are autobiographical. Instead, I drew on the emotional truths of figuring out what and who I wanted for myself. It’s all about choices. The choices we make and the paths we take. And how all of those experiences make up who we are and who we ultimately want to be.
SGK: How did you get inside Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva’s heads in such a convincing way?
Tanya: Well first off, thanks for the compliment! Writing Bad Boy was a very natural, almost organic, experience for me. It was the first novel I wrote and I think that inexperience actually helped in an odd way. I didn’t worry so much about whether or not I was doing things “right.” I also tapped into my theater background and did a lot of character role-playing in my head. That, combined with writing in poetry – in the voices I heard the girls speaking in – let me walk in their shoes for a time. I know these girls really well now and have a good sense of who they are and how they would react to almost anything you could throw at them. It’s like having a few extra friends. Weird, right? Oh – and it’s been performed a bunch of times as a short play with teen actors, so if any theater kids are reading this don’t hesitate to get in touch!
SGK: What are you working on now?
Tanya: Ah, I am glad you asked, because everyone reading this is officially invited to participate! I am working on a nonfiction book about the history of the Barbie doll and its impact on girl culture. Did you love Barbie? Hate her? Play with her endlessly? Torment her? Make her just like you–or just like you wish you could be? Just email me your (150 word or less) story with your first name, and your age, and I might select it for inclusion in Barbie: For Better, For Worse (Viking, 2010).
SGK: Can you share one piece of advice for all the smart girls out there?
Tanya: Always listen to that voice inside – even if it’s faint and small. The more you listen, the stronger it will get. And that voice – YOUR voice – will always show you the way. Trust yourself.
Thanks so much for asking me to stop by, Debbie! Oh, and by the way, if anyone’s looking for me, they’ll find me at my website, as well as on MySpace and Facebook.
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Teen Memoir Update
I’m excited to announce that I’m currently working with three incredibly talented writers on the first round of books in the new teen-authored memoir project I’m developing. Each of the authors is busily working putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and sharing their unique and interesting perspective on their world.
I’m still looking for authors for the next round of books, so if you’re an avid writer and have a real-life story to tell, send me an email and I’ll fill you in on the details and tell you everything you need to know about applying.
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Do you have friends who would like Smart Girls Know? Please send them the link to my blog and encourage them to sign up and be part of the SGK community!