Dear Diary, I took the most amazing pictures of myself today. I put on my mother’s long earrings, and lots of her make-up. Then I got out her Chinese robe with the big giant flowers on it and put that on. Then after I made sure no one was in the house I started taking selfies of myself. I posed in the craziest positions. I lounged on the couch as if I were lying around on a Greek Island in the the 1920’s. Then I made all sorts of faces, some happy, some sad, some excited, some upset and I just kept taking picture after picture. It was such fun! I felt like I was on some sort of imaginary stage. What was so intereting was after making sad faces I actually felt happier. It felt so good to just be able to do anything I felt I needed to do with my face. I sent a few to Angela and she loved them. She said that when her parents and brothers leave later she will put on a costume of some sort and send pictures back to me. Too soon I had to get out the cold cream and clean off my face and put everything away. Today was my secret. Only Angela knows. And you, Dear Diary.
Growing up is tough. Adults don’t always understand you (even though they were once kids), and children today face increasing pressure to be, look, or act a certain way. Written in the voice of a girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager, The Truth provides young girls with an opportunity to see how a girl, who is in many ways like themselves, handles her toughest problems and most personal thoughts. Each new page brings forth a discussion to help girls handle everyday problems: How do you survive a bully? How do you handle a crush on a boy? What can you do about relentless teasing by your peers? What really matters as you grow older?
The girl in the diary figures out how to survive and even more than survive as she matures, on her way to becoming a teen. She has to leave a lot behind, but she has some amazing ways to hold on to the best of herself. I don’t want to give all of the story away. Grab a copy of the book
and join into the GUTSY GIRL, TWEEN and TEEN generation.
Release of ‘The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween’, by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, Scheduled For July 1, 2014 – http://ow.ly/yycxc
First of all, a big thank you to Joanne Yelenik for inviting me to participate in the tour. Joanne is the author of “Eucalyptus Leaves: A Never to be Imagined Friendship in Israel.” The novel unfolds the events and developing relationship between a young man and an older, sophisticated woman over a two year period as they settle into their new-old, much loved homeland, Israel. You can find Joanne at her blog: http://eucalyptus-leaves.com/
The way this blog tour works is that we each answer the same four questions about our writing process. So here goes:
- 1) What am I working on?
Right now I am ‘recovering’ from many projects over the last several years. In the past three years I wrote my first adult romance, mystery novel: Next Year in Jerusalem! now renamed Around Every Corner Romance & Mystery… I also revised my book The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and sent it off to be published July 1, 2014 by Sky Pony Press. The new title is The Truth, Diary of A Gutsy Tween. Also in the past year, I have written two different versions of a play titled The Locket, which is based on The Truth. The play has been performed as a work in progress twice in Asbury Park.
Can you see that I may need some time to just chill out? And I am trying to take it each and every beautiful day that we have at the Jersey Shore. Oh, but I can’t rest too much. Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine… maybe, the second book in The Truth series, in which the girl is a year older, but not necessary a year wiser, is due at Sky Pony Press very shortly. I’ve already started revising it. Tomorrow, let’s see….what is the weather forecast? I guess that will determine what gets done on Secrets.
- 2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is such an interesting question. Of course there are other diary books out for girls and tweens and even boys. But the difference between mine and say a series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is that The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween, has been written by a positive psychologist (that’s me!) and every page is designed to encourage positive thinking, resiliency, positive self-regard, hopefulness, optimism, a recognition and valuing of one’s talents, strengths and potential, and much more. Every page can be used as a separate guidance lesson if one wished to. At the same time, the book is a page turner in its own right and kids enjoy the quick, easy read as they would any other really good fiction.
- 3) Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do because I am passionate about building kids up and helping their parents, teachers, grandparents, etc. better understand what kids feel and think. This is my life work and to find a way to weave it into drama has been an added gift!
- 4) How does my writing process work?
Each book has a different process. The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween, began as a book designed for adult women. The very first draft was based on a girl, actually the girl inside the woman talking to her, sharing with the woman how to live a more fulfilling life. The girl’s wisdom was adorable and amazing and based on one of my other important psychological concepts, The Seven Gateways to Happiness. However, the book itself never found the light of day. Eventually, I decided that the girl could just talk for herself and it would make a better read. Basically, I banished the woman. I’ve let her come back to life in other ways. For example, the characters in Around Every Corner have some of her attributes. Once the woman left the book, I decided a diary format was the easiest way to get the girl to speak to strangers. The diary format has been a hit. There have been several versions and now I’m so excited to be presenting the longest and deepest version to the world, July 1! This has been an amazing journey for the girl and for me! I hope you read The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And now I am going to pass the baton to our next blog tour author who you will find at: http://monaberman22.wordpress.com/ Here is a little about Mona: MONA BERMAN was born, bred and lived in Johannesburg until 2010 when she made Aliya to Israel. She has four degrees, four daughters, many grandchildren and now great-grandchildren in Israel. Her writing life began in earnest with the publication of a work of non-fiction Silence in the Fiction of Elie Wiesel (2001), two works of fiction, E-mail from a Jewish Mother (2002) and E-mail from a Jewish Grandmother (2008), a memoirRemembering Irma – Irma Stern: A Memoir with Letters (2003) and Serendipity in my Seventies (2012).
We all hope you are enjoying moving from one blog to another and learning more about how each of us create our written works!
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein To Release “The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween” – http://ow.ly/xSiwz
The girl in my book, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) could teach her parents so much, if only they would listen! She is not alone. Most, if not all children, are acutely aware of what is wrong in a family, regardless of parent’s efforts to hide their problems. Even if the parents are not overheard through the walls, kids figure out that their is a problem going on. How? Many ways. Just like us, they sense when something is not right. They see facial expressions; they hear tones of voices; they recognize silence as a weapon or possibly a hurt reaction; they hear a door slam; a plate put down too harshly at the dinner table; a parent coming home too late without a good reason. Our behaviors are usually pretty easy to read. Even if a child can’t put into words what or why something is wrong at home, she will still feel that there is something wrong. And the pain for a child can be immense. For example, read what the girl has to say in her diary:
“Last night my parents had a big fight. I could sort of hear them through the walls of my room. My eyes were shut tight but my ears were wide open, like elephant ears, trying to hear every word. I couldn’t, but they made me nervous and I couldn’t sleep. Today in school I was tired. They are the grownups; they shouldn’t have stupid fights that keep me awake. And anyway, nothing gets solved. No one feels better after being yelled at or put down. No one is going to co-operate any better just because you yell at them and tell them all the things they do wrong. Even I know that! I should’ve been able to fall asleep and have sweet dreams! I could teach my mom and dad so much, if only they would listen. Why would a grown-up put down someone he’s supposed to love? I don’t get it. They waste so much time fighting, and before you know it, everyone’s mood is sad or angry and the day is ruined. This is one thing I’m really promising myself to never do! My dad says, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” Well, even though he forgets his own words, I’m going to remember them.”
We need to understand that children want happy endings and everything to be alright. These are normal psychological expectations growing up. They depend on us to create the good times and to keep the household peaceful and a safe place to be. It is a big task when a couple is getting along. It is even a bigger task when there is friction between the parents.
Here are a three suggestions for you, if you and your spouse are struggling as a couple and perhaps it is your child that has elephant ears!
1. Seek professional help. Couple counseling can not only bring happiness back into your lives, but the counselor can help guide you on what to tell your child about your difficulties, how to soothe her, etc.
2. Make an effort to not go down the emotional developmental ladder, when the two of you are upset with each other. That means that your efforts to talk out problems, even if the kids overhear, rather than shouting, going silent, storming out, is the more grown-up decision. It will help show them that you are trying and also give them examples of tools of communication that they will need as grown-ups.
3. Above all try to maintain time with your child that is pleasant and loving. That goes for each parent. If you can not navigate good times together, then at least separately have fun, loving times with your child. She deserves the good times and so do you!
*Watch Julia reading for the girl in the play version of The Truth, The Locket
As a psychologist and an educator I’ve spent many years helping children be better understood and to better understand themselves. One thing I emphasize is that children learn over many years not only how to express themselves but what they are allowed to express.
Recently, I learned all of this anew by finding in my attic my old diaries from the 4th, 5th and sixth grades. Page by page I detailed my life from what I ate for breakfast, to the weather, to playing with a friend, studying for a test, going to visit my relatives, moving to a new town, etc. But what I didn’t include in these diaries were my feelings, secrets worries or questions about life.
I wouldn’t have dared to put into print any of the above. Not because I was afraid someone would read my diary, I really wasn’t afraid and anyway it had a lock on it. I just couldn’t even imagine saying certain things out loud. Merely verbalizing my fear of dying, or my run-in with a neighbor who was inappropriate to me, was beyond the scope of permission I would give myself to speak aloud in any form. Writing the diary was good as it gave me practice in writing, but sharing my feelings would take more than writing practice.
Now as I read the pages of going iceskating and receiving a dollar from my cousin Eleanor, I realize so clearly what was missing. And it is okay that some things are not expressed aloud by kids. But what is not okay, is not giving kids help in expressing themselves.
How do we do this as parents? By talking to them and listening to them. We need to share enough of our memories of growing up, including the feelings and anxieties as to open the door for permission for them to share back. We need to listen for the obvious cues of the crying behind a closed door, but also to the silent cues, when a kid is just not sharing enough.
I’m glad my diaries are with me. The child in me is still able to remind me, and so I remind you. Never forget that children need our permission and help to learn what is okay to talk about and share.
The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) can be a great place to start. As the girl in the diary does share her feelings and fears as well as her hopes and dreams. I wrote the book that way so you can use it as a spring board to talk to your daughter or granddaughter. The girl gets us started on a wonderful road to sharing.