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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Interview with Barbara Ehrentreu author of IF I COULD BE LIKE JENIFER TAYLOR

Carolyn Samuels’ freshman year becomes a series of lies to cover Jennifer Taylor’s terrible secret in return for popularity.

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. After Jennifer’s 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 sleep over 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 become popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

Before we start, thank you Meradeth for inviting me to be on your blog. We are both part of the month long MG/YA Blog Fest for all the Muse authors who have books coming out in September and also write MG/YA.

(Q) Thanks for stopping by my blog! Let’s start with the basics: where are you from? Is there any place online you’d like to direct us to learn more about you?

I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Queens, so you can say I am a New York City girl through and through. You can learn more about me here:

Barbara’s Meanderings - my blog



(Q) I always love hearing about how the idea for a particular book came about. Please fill us in on how you got the idea for IF I COULD BE LIKE JENIFER TAYLOR.

I wrote this book, because my daughter had the beginnings of an eating disorder and she also felt bad about her body. I needed three chapters for this children’s workshop led by Paula Danziger, so I wrote them. In the story the MC is being bullied by a girl named Jennifer Taylor and the MC both hates and wants to be like Jennifer Taylor. She actually says, “If only I could be like Jennifer Taylor.”

(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?

Lewis Carroll, Jane Austin, Paula Danziger, John Irving and too many others to list.

(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?

I read a lot and go to the movies. Also I like to cook and bake occasionally. To relax I like to watch TV with my daughters. When we can I love to travel too.

(Q) If you could describe your ideal writing spot, where would it be? What music would you listen to (if at all)? What treats would you have on hand?

I can write almost anywhere, but right now I’m happy writing at my desk on my laptop.  When I’m writing I like to have chocolate cookies available and caffeine free diet Coke.

(Q) Plotter or pantser? Both? Neither?

I am definitely a “pantser”. I just start out writing and have no idea where it is going. When I have a good sentence I write that and usually the story moves along by itself. Dialogue writes itself if I have fleshed out the character enough before I write. If I haven’t fleshed out the character, then I stop and do a little bit of outlining the plot. But this is very rare. 

(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? Care to share?

Yes, actually I do have an adult novel on which I’m working as well as two other YA novels.  When My Life Changed, is almost ready to send out. I have to go over it before I send it. This is also a YA novel about a fifteen year old girl whose life changes when her father has a heart attack and bypass surgery.

(Q) What kinds of marketing do you think are the most successful in terms of getting your name/book out there? (Curious minds are taking notes!)

I think any time you can actually get yourself out there as a person this helps a great deal. I have been blogging for awhile and also I have a radio show on Blog Talk Radio. But in August I participated in a webinar we called a Live Book Reading and I read an excerpt from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. There were over 300 people listening to the conference call and another 50 people on the webinar. We are doing it again this Sunday. Things like this get both your name out and the name of your book and give people a taste of what they will read. I also think book trailers are effective. Blog interviews like this one are also great ways to get to know an author. Of course, if you can get out physically and meet people one to one that is always a good thing. I have postcards I am handing out with my book cover. I am signing them for people too!

(Q) If you'd like to add anything, please do so.

If you leave a comment talking about your experiences as a freshman in high school, I am choosing the winner of my e-book in a random drawing of the comments. My book comes out September 16th, so you will have to wait a little bit.:)

(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?

I spot him walking toward my locker with a small box in one hand and a plastic fork in the other. My Crush! He hands me the box, and I open it. Inside is a piece of luscious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I look up into his blue eyes and give him the box so I can touch his cheek as I smooth his dark hair.                                                                                                                                                                “You always know just what I like.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                 He smiles and feeds me a forkful of cake. I don’t have to worry about eating it because I can eat anything I want and not gain weight. He places the cake box in my locker so he can put his arms around me.                                                                                                                                                                                                    The first bell rings in my ears. I ignore it because I’m thin and blonde and floating in the arms of my dark-haired crush. The other cheerleaders run up to us laughing and kidding around, and I’m about to speak. The ringing gets louder. 
The dream evaporates, and I realize it’s the darn alarm piercing my sleep. Slamming my fist onto the snooze button, I get this nagging feeling. Then I remember. I have something to do. Worse luck, I have to do it, not as the slender blonde beauty in my dream, but as the real Carolyn Samuels with my brown curly hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti, mud brown eyes, and a body too large for fashion. 

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 inspired by Paula Danziger. Barbara is a NY Literature Examiner for Examiner.com with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com/, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts 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 writes book reviews for Authorlink.com. and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

Thanks for stopping by, Barbara! I hope you all enjoyed learning more about IF I COULD BE LIKE JENIFER TAYLOR!