For the past eight months, Michelle has been actively reading and critiquing the manuscript for Rejected, my first YA novel, which I expect to finish up next month. Michelle, who earned a degree in Literature from Ramapo College, has been an amazing critic and consultant throughout this process. She is one of my greatest supporters and always keeps me motivated. I'm beyond thankful for her efforts.
I'm excited to introduce her to my readers and allow her to share some thoughts on this project and its content. Here is her guest blog (my first ever!)
Dear All Awesome Paul Readers,
Hello! When Paul asked me if I was interested in doing a guest blog, I was pumped. I'm one of Paul's coworkers. In the past year, Paul and I have become great friends. We commiserate together, share our frustrations with not having teaching jobs, and somewhere along the way, I managed to weasel my way into reading his novel in progress. I've always been an avid reader. I have a special place in my heart for YA Literature and young characters. Previously, I worked for a NJ Public Library where I coordinated the youth service activities and spent a lot of time exploring this genre. There's nothing like seeing a teen grab a book, then go hide in a library corner excited to read it. My heart goes out to them!
Anyway, I thought I could share a story related to the nature of Paul's book.
In my junior year of high school, I was a bit of a floater. I was part of the popular crowd, but had also been a counselor for two summers at a camp called "The Teen Institute of the Garden State." This camp was all about accepting people for who they are, resisting peer pressure, and being a leader. I LOVED it. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I definitely took away a new sense of bravery.
I'm not going to say my popular friends were bad people, because they weren't. They just weren't particularly open people. They didn't step outside the box or care to meet others. On the other hand, I wanted to be friends with everyone.
One day, I was sitting at lunch with my usual crowd. For weeks, I had noticed an extreme punk-rock-grunge kid sitting at a table alone - reading. He was a year older than I was. I decided to grab my courage, leave my friends mid sentence, and walk over to him. I asked if he would like someone to eat lunch with for the day. He had a VERY suspicious look. After reading books like Paul's, I understand why. Who was I walking over to him? Why was I there? Was it a prank? Pity? How would he know?
But he allowed me to join him. I noticed a bunch of patches on his bag for obscure bands. Lucky for me, I always liked different types of music and had a good friend who let me in on the scene early. I talked to him about the bands. He opened up more. I asked about what he was reading. I asked about if he had friends assigned a different lunch period. All eyes were on us for a while.
Lunch ended. I offered to sit with him whenever he wanted company. He replied, "Uh, thanks." I never sat with him again, but I frequently said hello in the hallway. When my friends questioned my motives, I said, "If it were me, I'd like it if someone gave me a chance." They didn't ask for more. I wondered for a long time if it was a bad mood - maybe it embarrassed him, or made him angry. Maybe he chose to sit alone. He graduated, and I never heard from him or saw him again.
That is until about three months ago, when he contacted me on Facebook. I received a message saying, "I don't know if you remember me at all, but a long time ago in high school you came over and sat by me in lunch one day. I just wanted to tell you that it really meant a lot to me. I thought about it a lot. So. I just wanted to say thank you. In case I didn't then."
That message meant the world to me. It ended all the worrying thoughts I had about my actions. It reminded me to take a step forward and be a good person. It also made me think about how vitally important Paul's book and subject matter is.
I am a firm believer that Paul is writing something magical. I can not wait to read the rest of his chapters. The dedication Paul has for keeping his novel authentic is amazing. Count me on board till the end!
Thanks to Paul and Paul's readers for the opportunity to share this story.
- Michelle from alalune.tumblr.com