Dear Twelve-Year-Old Corey:
Hi from twenty years in the future!
I want you to know I get sad when I think about you. Not because you don’t have a great life ahead—you do!—but because you are confused and lonely and it takes time for things to iron themselves out, for the world to start making more sense, for the things that are painful to become the very same things that you are proud to have survived.
Right now you are probably writing in your journal about a boy you like (Jerry? Justin? Jon? You had a thing for J-names I guess) and wondering if you are pretty enough for them to like you back. Your bedroom door is closed and luckily you have a whole universe in your bedroom—magazine cutouts on the wall and a perfect selection of showtunes and sad music and oldies to choose from with your brand-new stereo, and two bookshelves stacked with books and a stuffed animal named Tammy and a fish named Windy who is beautiful but won’t live very long (I’m sorry. Fish often don’t).
You are uncomfortable and sad, but you don’t know why.
You have a sinking feeling in your chest.
You are scared.
You should be happier than you are, you’ve been told.
I want to tell you that these things—these feelings that are deep and wild and thick and impossible—are okay. You can have them. You don’t have to work so hard to not have them. It won’t work anyway, and trying to not have feelings only makes the bad feelings worse.
I want to tell you that worrying about being pretty enough is a thing you’re going to fight for a long time. You will fret and wonder and ask over and over in your head, every time you see yourself in a mirror or catch sight of a photograph taken of you, am I pretty? Am I pretty ENOUGH?
There is no real answer, aside from the answer that is the opposite of an answer–to stop asking the question. Pretty is a word that doesn’t mean much of anything, actually, and what I can tell you for sure is that you are smart enough and kind enough and funny enough and a good enough writer and friend and daughter and person.
Actually, you are all those enoughs even on days when you are sulky or snarky or accidentally mean or a little on-purpose mean or failing a test or getting a pimple or being awkward in a group or making a gigantic or super tiny mistake.
You are enough. There’s nothing to fight for, there’s nothing to try to make better in yourself. It’s already there.
Listen: You are not perfect.
That is the answer to the question you keep asking.
You are not perfect because no one’s perfect and no one’s expecting you to be perfect except that mean voice inside of you that you will learn how to quiet.
I want to tell you that the things you love matter, and that being alone in a closed-door room for hours on end doesn’t make you lazy or boring or selfish or uncaring. It doesn’t make you friendless or strange or pathetic or bad.
You are good at knowing what makes you happy and what you like to do. Do those things; find that happiness. Don’t listen to people who tell you to do things differently.
I want to tell you that you can trust yourself.
I want to tell you that every day for the next six years, until you leave home and move to New York, and I want to tell you that for the next fourteen years after that as you build your life there and make friends who are family and discover passions that are careers and meet boys who will become boyfriends and a boyfriend who will become a fiancé and have an apartment will become a home.
You can trust yourself.
You can trust yourself.
You can trust yourself to know when something is wrong or strange or not right or not your fault.
You can trust yourself to know what’s good and safe and right for you.
You can trust yourself to do the right thing as much of the time as an imperfect person is capable of doing and you can trust yourself to recover from the times when you don’t do the right thing.
You can trust yourself to take care of yourself.
You can trust yourself to stand up for what you believe in.
You can trust your feelings and your dreams and that little spark of strength that you think is maybe there.
You can trust yourself, because you are not just a sad girl sitting in a room wishing things were different. You are a girl who is living in a moment that doesn’t make much sense and is doing her very best to survive it.
And you can trust yourself, because, guess what? You do survive it. You really, really do.
PS: You think you are a cat person. You are not. You are a dog person.
PPS: No, you aren’t really going to grow too much taller. Sorry.
Rules for Stealing Stars can be found on IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.
In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu’s sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.
When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.
Find more Hey Kid! letters here.
|Corey Ann Haydu is the author of OCD LOVE STORY, LIFE BY COMMITTEE, MAKING PRETTY and her middle grade debut, RULES FOR STEALING STARS. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009.|
In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.
Corey also teaches YA Novel Writing with Mediabistro and is adapting her debut novel, OCD LOVE STORY into a high school play, which will have its first run in Fall 2015.
Corey lives in Brooklyn with her dog, her fiance, and a wide selection of cheese.
Connect with Corey on twitter at @CoreyAnnHaydu.
Parties! Two weeks ago, The Pirate Code was released, which was a great excuse for a party or two! I had two swashbucklingly awesome events in Oregon, at Powell’s Books in Beaverton and at The Book Bin in Salem. Candy treasure was consumed, sea shanties were sang, the book cover was recreated, and a good time was had by all (or I would have made them walk the plank). See photos here and here.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended and celebrated this new book with me.
Big News! Last week, Hook’s Revenge hit the New York Times Bestsellers list! (WHAT?) It was listed as number five in middle grade ebooks.
Jeans. I bought a new pair and I love them so much I want to wear them every day. This is a cause to celebrate and I wanted to share it with you.
Water on Mars! That’s big news too! So awesome. Though knowing that might have made things a lot easier for Matt Damon. Speaking of which…
The Martian. I read the book last week and couldn’t put it down. I’m really hoping the movie does it justice. Are any of you planning on seeing it this weekend?
What’s on your mind today, friends?
**Contest is now closed. Congrats to Jason A. and thanks to everyone who entered!**
Today is the day, friends. Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code is now unleashed on the world!
I’m very proud of this book. I hope you will enjoy reading Jocelyn’s new adventures and misadventures.
Now, how about a giveaway, hmm? I’ll send one lucky winner, anywhere in the world, signed hardcovers of both books, and the audiobook for the UK version of Hook’s Revenge, Hook’s Daughter (same book, just more British).
All you have to do is translate this word.
(Hint: Either look in the back of The Pirate Code, or search my website—any page, not just the blog—for the hidden key. Click anything that looks interesting.) Once you have decoded the word, send me an email telling me what it says.
I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month, September 30.
Good luck, matey!
Hi, Middle School Rachele!
This is you from the future (the way way far future…middle school seems so long ago now!). Life is pretty great! You have an awesome husband, adorable new baby and a cuddly dog who loves to lay by you when you write!
I want to tell you a cool story about a time in your life when you were really upset, because it has a really happy ending that you just didn’t know about yet!
So remember at the start of middle school when there was a meeting after school about band? And all the instruments were spread out in the music room, and you could try them all out? Remember how you fell in love with the saxophone (probably partly because your cousin and close friend, Shelly, played it and partly because Lisa Simpson played it…yep, you must have been onto something when you were obsessed with The Simpsons, because over twenty years later, it’s still on the air!). Anyways, you wanted to play the saxophone so bad and as your other friends were trying out instruments, you didn’t even touch another one because you knew that the saxophone was the one meant for you.
You went home all excited to tell your mom about it but instead of being as excited as you were, she looked upset. You didn’t understand why until she told you how expensive the saxophone was. And how she couldn’t afford for you to play it. Remember how upset you were? Your mom felt bad and told you that you could keep taking piano lessons, but it wasn’t the same. You wanted to pick up that shiny saxophone and press down on the keys again. You wanted to leave regular music class and go to band with the rest of your friends. You wanted to be a part of the Christmas concert and spring recital and wear a fancy black skirt and white blouse while everyone watched you play.
You were really sad about it and as much as you tried to hide your disappointment, your mom could tell. So she suggested that instead of the saxophone, you could take acting lessons at The Beck Center. You loved the Beck Center! Your Girl Scout troop always went to see the children theater shows there, and you used to beg your mom to let you be a part of it. You quickly agree, the saxophone forgotten and this begins one of your greatest adventures. You start going to classes every Saturday and eventually get a role in a play. You’re only a townsperson in Cinderella, but you treat it as if you have a lead. You get cast in more shows and you couldn’t be happier. The Beck Center becomes your home away from home, and you make some of your best friends there. You love acting and are so thankful that your mom suggested you do this instead of the saxophone.
Fast forward to twenty plus years later. You still love theater. You minored in it in college, you’ve directed shows at the middle school where you teach, and you’ve seen so many plays you’ve lost count (including two on Broadway!). One day you have an idea for a book, sparked by your years spent in children’s theater, and it starts to grow in your head. You sit down to write it and Operation Pucker Up is born. Your agent sells it and now, in a week, you’ll have your launch party at The Beck Center! And your old friends will be there reading chapters from the book and acting them out! How cool is that!?!
So what I really want to say to you is don’t be too sad about not playing the saxophone, because it was a blessing in disguise. It might have seemed unfair at the time, but look at what happened because of it! You were introduced to one of your favorite places in the world and made some best friends for life. So remember that life can surprise you sometimes. I’ll be thinking of the funny way things can turn out as I’m standing on that same stage you once did and thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate the release of Operation Pucker Up!
First kisses are always nerve-racking—but especially when they’re onstage! Can Grace find a real-life Prince Charming before she has to lock lips in front of a crowd?
Grace Shaw is thrilled to pieces when she wins the coveted lead role in her school play. That is, until she realizes she’ll have to kiss Prince Charming. And not only is Prince Charming—a.k.a James Lowe—the most popular boy in school, but Grace has never, ever been kissed.
To help, Grace’s two best friends create Operation Pucker Up—a plan for Grace to score a kiss before opening night so she doesn’t make total fool of herself in front of a live audience. If that weren’t enough to think about, Grace’s father, who left six months ago, suddenly walks back into her life. Haddie, her mom and sister have bonded as the “Terrific Three” – and while two of the “Three” welcome Dad back with open arms, Grace isn’t sure she can forgive and forget.
With Operation Pucker Up spinning out of control, and opening night fast approaching, will Grace manage to get her happily ever after—both on-stage and off?
Find Operation Pucker Up on IndieBound, Amazon, B&N, and Target or ask for it at bookstores and libraries near you.
Find more Hey Kid! letters here.
|Rachele Alpine is a lover of gummy candy, bad reality TV, and coffee…so much coffee. She’s the author of the MG novels Operation Pucker Up (Simon & Schuster) and You Throw Like a Girl (Simon & Schuster, 2017), and the YA novel Canary (Medallion). |
Connect with Rachele on RacheleAlpine.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Kate Messner is a genuine wizard with words. I had the honor of hearing her speak at the national SCBWI conference in New York last year and came away absolutely inspired. I’m so grateful she took the time to read and share her thoughts on The Pirate Code:
Christopher Healy‘s The Hero’s Guide series is a hilarious new take on the familiar—in other words, it’s just my cup of tea. I was so happy that he enjoyed The Pirate Code!
Anne Ursu‘s Breadcrumbs has earned a place amongst my favorite middle grade books, and The Real Boy is is no less amazing. I was floored when Anne agreed to blurb The Pirate Code, and utterly thrilled at what she had to say:
I have long admired Claire Legrand and fell in love with The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls on its very first page. It is an honor to have Claire say such lovely things:
Words are my job. I can spend hours searching for the just the right one. However, when my book is being praised by authors I admire, the best I can come up with are, “Ahhhhhh!” “Really???” and “Thank you!”
All this week, I’ll be sharing blurbs from fantastic authors. First up, Adam Rex.
Adam’s books are favorites around here. Hannah and I both capital-L-Loved THE TRUE MEANING OF SMECKDAY (made into a little Dreamworks movie called Home—perhaps you’ve heard of it?) and SMEK FOR PRESIDENT!.
Here is what Adam had to say about THE PIRATE CODE.