It is with great honour that I interview Barbara Ehrentreu. Barbara’s teen novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor was one of the very first books from Muse It Up Publishing I ever read. It was gripping. It was compelling. And most of all, it teaches teenaged girls a good lesson about something secret, but I won’t say what. You have to read it. Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book from Barbara.
Barbara, tell us about your amazing book If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor.
First of all, thank you so much Suzanne for inviting me to your blog! It’s always fun for me to visit a new blog. J
My young adult novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is the story of a girl, Carolyn Samuels, who feels bad about her body. 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 boyfriend, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is 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 spend the night 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 popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
I can’t begin to tell you how fascinated children are with your book. I tell every single classroom I visit about it. Every single visit usually ends with kids calling out over and over again, “What’s the big secret the cool girl is keeping?” And I always reply, “I can’t tell you. You have to read the book to find out.”
That is so good to hear, because this age group is where I hoped my readers would be. I think it’s wonderful that you are promoting my book!! I am working on getting it into the schools.
Now Barbara, I’m hoping you have another book coming out soon. Please say it’s true.
Yes, I do have another book that is almost ready to submit and all I am doing now is waiting for my daughter, who is my beta reader, to give me her comments. She helped me a great deal with my first novel and I value her opinion.
The next book is called When My Life Changed and it’s about a girl, fifteen, whose life changed when her father had a heart attack. Lauren is a girl who is pretty content with her life. She has a BFF who is a boy whom she has known since kindergarten, and she plays softball for her high school. She is a sophomore, but she’s thinking about her future and hoping to get a scholarship for her softball. However, when her father has the heart attack her focus changes and suddenly baseball and softball aren’t as important. She can’t concentrate in school and she finds that having only a boy as friend doesn’t work now. She gravitates toward her friend Jenny, even though Joey, her BFF is very supportive. Lauren starts thinking of him as more than a friend. The only trouble is he is going out with her enemy, Amber, who is a mean girl. Things come to a head and Joey has to choose between Lauren and Amber. The story of a girl struggling to keep herself and her family together in such a stressful situation while seeing her best friend with her enemy, is filled with how Lauren copes with this new experience. It shows the effects on both her family and herself, and there is a little drama too.
Here is a little excerpt from the first chapter.
When My Life Changed (WIP)
The phone rang as the ball left the pitcher’s glove and in a second as I saw Mom’s tears, I forgot all about the game. My life changed while the TV blurred and turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope. The moment it changed has been indelibly pressed in my thoughts.
My sister, Diane, was upstairs hunched over her computer as usual. She’s not a baseball fan at all. But I lived and breathed for the Mets that Fall. They had such a great chance of getting the pennant and maybe even winning the World Series. I obsessed about the Mets and of course, Joey.
Joey, my best friend from kindergarten, was always there for me. It’s hard to imagine a recess without him by my side. He’s bigger than me and always looked a little older than he was. Mom liked Joey, because he reassured her he would obey her rules. Maybe it’s his easy smile or his clear gray eyes.
Lately, though, Joey and I weren’t so close. It happened during the summer when he was a counsellor at this camp and he hooked up with this girl Amber who goes to our school. So now he spends a lot of his time with her and we barely see each other. We used to watch the Mets all the time together too. So I missed him being there with me, and his comments about the players.
But all that was pre-phone call. Pre-pc my deepest thoughts centered on the Mets and finding the sweet spot for the ball in my new baseball glove. Pre-pc my world was worrying about homework getting done and wondering what lunch would be like on Monday. Oh and of course thinking about how to beat the next team we were up against in softball. I’m a starting pitcher this year and I want to show my coach she can believe in me. I’m only a sophomore, but I hope someday to play college softball so I can get a scholarship to go. My parents have already told me they can’t swing it without one.
That sounds very interesting. I can’t wait until it comes out. Now Barbara, tell us a little bit more about your life. What does a day in the life of Barbara Ehrentreu look like?
I live with my husband and two grown daughters in Stamford, CT. We live right on the shore, so you can look out and see the water. You can walk along the path, because there is a wildlife sanctuary there too. When I could walk that is where I spent my afternoons if I could. I love to watch the swans and Ibis.
I usually get up late, because I can.:) Sometimes I go with my husband wherever he goes - to the doctor, or shopping. I try to keep up with my email both at home and on my phone. Sometimes I get a chance to work on some writing and that is usually looking at a story or editing my WIP. If I am not working on my own writing, I edit for 4RV Publishing. In my non-writing world I am a tutor in late afternoon for three children. If it’s April, I’m writing poetry when I can. Most of the time it is in the afternoon, but sometimes I don’t get any inspiration until evening.
I have two more novels that are basically finished and in the critique stage, however, one of them I have decided to rewrite in a more supernatural direction. It’s called: Footsteps on the Sand and it’s about a boy whose grandfather leaves his family his beach house in the Hamptons. While looking in the closet he encounters his grandfather’s diary and meets his grandfather’s ghost. He discovers his grandfather was a champion surfer and the boy would like to learn to surf. I’m rewriting it, so being a “pantser” I’m not sure of where this is going. However, there is a little young love in here too.:)
My poems have been published in two anthologies with my poetry group “The Anthologists” that we sell for different charities. You can find them on Amazon. I will list the links under this. You can also find many of my poems on my blog under the tab, Poetry. Also, if you are a teacher and you would like to use my book for your class I have a Teacher’s Guide on my blog too.
Where can we buy your book?
You can find my book here:
Here are my other links:
Facebook Author : https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraEhrentreu
Well, Barbara, it’s been very interesting interviewing you. I’ll keep shouting out If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor because I think it’s up there with Are you there, God, It’s Me, Margaret. It’s a book every teenaged girl should read.
Thank you so much for your outrageous and flattering comments, Suzanne!! I have really enjoyed being on your blog and I hope that I get to meet some new people. Remember to leave a comment so you can win a free book!!!