Summer Teen Reading Party with Barbara Ehrentreu

I welcome Barbara Ehrentreu to my blog today as part of the Summer Teen Reading Party. Barbara has written a prize-winning novel titled If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Love the cover!

From Goodreads: 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. 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?

Inspiration for Writing If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

summer of 2002 I enrolled in Writer’s Week at Manhattanville College where I
was currently working on my Masters in Reading and Writing. If you have never
been to Writer’s Week and live relatively close to the college you should think
about it. For an entire week you have workshops both in the morning and the
afternoon. You choose your genre and each workshop is headed by a well known
author or teacher of writing. Celebrity authors and workshop participants rub
shoulders at many activities, including the daily readings of outstanding work
from each group.
the workshop I chose was Children’s Writing led by the delightful, quirky and
multi- book author, Paula Danziger. She wrote books for young girls that cut to
the very heart of the emotional life of a tween ager. For the pass to get into
the class we all needed to write three chapters of a story for children. At the
time my daughter, who was going into college in the fall, had some issues with
both her body and with eating. Her eating disorder had not gotten out of hand,
but it was a problem to both her and me. This was something on my mind and so I
created two characters. One had issues with her body image and the other was
perfect, but she had an eating disorder. I wrote my three chapters and handed
them in to Paula Danziger.
first day of the workshop she arrived with her signature purple sneakers and
her bright red hair and she looked like she had stepped out of a children’s
book. But the thing about Paula was how open and friendly she was and how
accessible she was to us. We all sat around and she talked with us about
writing, for a whole week. During this time she held private conferences and
the first time she saw my three chapters her first words to me and the words
she wrote on the paper were “Cut, Cut, Cut!!!” 
I still have the original papers on which she wrote. Paula believed that
children’s books didn’t need long sentences and especially in the beginning of
the book, sentences should be short and move the reader to want to learn more.
After all of the revisions and editing of my book, I still have a few sentences
left that came directly from Paula. She told me that first day that she liked
my writing and that I might have a good book in there if I could wade through
all the extra words. She even reminded me during workshop discussions that I
should cut my words while speaking.
six months later I met Paula at the Winter Conference for SCBWI and we talked
about my book. Then a year later, her last conference, I showed her a passage
that had given me a lot of trouble. She read it and suggested a few things to
do that helped me very much. Her encouragement helped me to continue to write
and eventually finish the story. However, I got bogged down in the middle
and that was when I turned to Children’s Authors’ Bootcamp for help. This was
two days of constant lecturing and writing where we took apart our stories and
examined each part. We learned about character development and plot development
and on the second day after having been stumped for both an ending and a clear
plot line for my secondary character, Jennifer, I was able to finish the plot
and write an ending for my story. Laura Backes and Linda Arms White gave me the
tools I needed!!
Danziger, unfortunately, is not here to share in the triumph of the publication
of my first novel, but I know if she were she would be doing a happy dance with
her red hair wildly flying and her face smiling. She was one of a kind and her
support made me feel that someday I too would be able to publish my book. That
is why I dedicated my first ever YA novel to Paula Danziger. If you are not
familiar with her work you should go to Amazon and look up Paula Danziger.
YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, MuseItUp Publishing is
available here in ebook and print:
and Noble:
come over to visit my blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,  where I am part of the month long Summer Teen
Reading Party. In addition to my blog I sometimes do a monthly show on Blog
Talk Radio called RRWL Tales from the Pages where I get a chance
to interview authors, editors and publishers.

Barbara Bio:
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, published by MuseItUp Publishing was inspired by Paula
Danziger. It has won #2 in Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Young Adult
Book of 2011. In addition, Barbara has a story in Lavender Dreams, a memorial anthology for
which all the proceeds go to cancer research. She has three poems in Prompted: An International Collection of Poems by
the Anthologists for which all the proceeds go to Literacy research. Her blog,
Barbara’s Meanderings,, 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 has written book reviews for
and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a
member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s