Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Guest Post - Deborah Reber

Love, Love, Love: Language of Love; Cupidity (Simon Romantic Comedies)Today's post is brought to you by Deborah Reber. Ms. Reber has done work with teens across the country and has written two teen nonfiction books out: Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balance, Peaceful You and In Their Shoes, both of which we have in our school library.She also worked on the Louder Than Words series, real stories from real teens, including blogger Chelsea (Rae) Swiggett. Ms. Reber is making her Young Adult fiction debut with The Language of Love published by Simon Pulse. 

The Joys (and Challenges) of Working with Teens by Deborah Reber

People often ask me why I do what I do. Why I devote my writing and creative energy to projects aimed at a teen audience. My answer is always the same – I’m a recovering teen. My teen years, and especially the challenges I faced during them, have shaped so much of who I am that I want to do what I can help teens come into their power and feel good about themselves now. I mean really… why wait?

Though much of my work involves writing for or speaking to teens, sometimes I have the chance to work one-on-one with teens – one of my favorite things on the planet to do. This was the case with my series Louder Than Words, which I created and edited for HCI Books.

My job on that series was to find talented teen writers with interesting stories to tell, and then supporting them through every step of writing their autobiography. To be honest, this was one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve had in a long time. I absolutely loved that I got to foster deep connections with these girls and be a trusted person in their lives. I knew what a huge deal it was for them to be tackling the business of spilling their guts for all the world to see, and I virtually, and sometimes physically, held their hand through the whole process. I was honored that these amazing girls let me inside their lives.

It also caused me more than one sleepless night. Working with teens carries with it a ton of responsibility. I was (and still am) very protective of these girls, and it was tough knowing that some of the things they were writing about were still painful for them, and that in putting their stories out there they were surely going to stir up big reactions among their close friends and family. There were also a few occasions where one of my authors would disappear for a while and I wouldn’t be able to reach them to check in on progress or connect about an upcoming deadline. Deep down I knew they were most likely in need of space and so I tried to give it to them. But at times, it was especially difficult to give them that space while keeping the project, which had very real deadlines from the publisher, on schedule. But in the end, the books all got completed more or less on time, and the girls were all extremely proud of their accomplishment.

Two days ago I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Though I normally would have let it go to voicemail, for some reason, I felt compelled to pick it up. I’m glad I did. It was one of the authors from the first collection of Louder Than Words memoirs. It had been over a year since we’d talked, but she is working on her first novel and wanted to talk with me about what she should do to get it published. We talked for nearly an hour – about writing, the publishing industry, and college life. When I got off the phone, I didn’t think about the hour of “work time” I had lost. I just smiled and told myself, at the end of the day, this is what your work is all about. Empowering teens to reach for their big dreams. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

Thanks so much Deborah! 

Learn more about Deborah Reber - website
@DeborahReber - twitter

Please tune in February 14, 2011 for my review of the Language of Love!

1 comment:

  1. i work in a private high school and am always on the lookout for books and authors to bring into my classroom. it's easy for me to understand what reber is talking about when she describes the joys of working with teenagers. i love my kids and really enjoy getting together with graduates for dinner or other celebrations. it's rewarding to see what they are doing--especially if they are working in a creative field or have become avid readers partially as a result of my dogged efforts. i'm interested in reading what reber has to say in her two nonfiction books and hope i can use excerpt in the classroom. thanks for shining a light on an author i might have otherwise missed!


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