Take Five with YA Author Holly Cupala
Nov 2nd, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

SHH! Tell Me A Secret!


Win a signed copy of Tell Me a Secretsee below for details!  Easy to enter – just click on comments and write something about this interview.  This will work too: “I would love to read this book!” 

Tell Me a Secret - Free Audiobook PodcastFree serialized audiobook podcast at www.tellmeasecretnovel.com


Author Holly Cupala


Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me a Secret (HarperTeen 2010), didn’t shy away from answering the five tough questions below.  I found her answers to be meaningful, thought provoking, authentic.  Thank you Holly!

I brought Tell Me a Secret to Starbucks to read while I waited for a friend to join me.  I didn’t want to put it down!  When my friend was busy adding cream and sugar to her coffee, I snuck in a few more sentences.  After she left I decided I wasn’t leaving Starbucks until I finished the book.

This YA novel will grab ahold of your heart and squeeze tight.  I held my breath and swiped away more than a few tears, not wanting to be overtly public and sob out loud.  The characters come to life and become a part of you.  This is not a book where you can be indifferent.  Holly addresses tough issues of sisterhood, faith, friendship, pregnancy, secrets, dreams, and identity.  There is something for everyone in this novel – lessons to take to heart as long as you look for meaning.  Don’t miss Tell Me a Secret. It’s a must read for YA, parents, and teachers.

1. In Tell Me a Secret there are several secrets.  What do you feel should be the “rule of thumb” for keeping or sharing secrets with others?

Liza, you’re not going to let me off easy! I think there are a continuum of secrets, ranging from harmless to dangerous, and it can be so difficult to determine where on that continuum someone else’s secret is. There are the obvious ones: physical abuse. Date rape. Life-threatening habits. But what about the subtle ones? Like emotional abuse? If a friend told me a secret, I would do my best to help my friend make healthy decisions and to stick by them as they dealt with the consequences. If a friend is sharing a secret with you, they may be asking for help. Trust your instincts.

2. Your MC, Rand (Miranda) discovers that she is pregnant.  What are some dos and don’ts for a pregnant teen or for a friend of a pregnant teen?

Miranda doesn’t have very many people she can trust in the novel—she’s lost her best friend, the baby’s father avoids her, and her new friend is not what she seems to be. Her mother is locked behind a wall of her own grief and shame, and worst of all, the sister she trusted and looked up to most is gone. Miranda eventually seeks out her own support network and finds a friend in the last person she expects.

If I had a pregnant teen friend, I would encourage her to find a friend, mentor, or family member she could trust to help her through the difficult decisions and processes of a pregnancy. Whatever she chose, there would be consequences—a good friend would help her. On the other side, friends can be a lifeline through unexpected circumstances. If you are a friend, you may be more important than you know. True friendship shines through adversity, and there is hope on the other side.

3. Rand made quite a few mistakes that were painful lessons for her.  What do you think a YA can learn from mistakes and how can they move past them or learn from them?

Miranda sees flaws in others but is blind to her own, until extreme circumstances awaken her vision. I think most of us, to a greater or lesser degree, don’t really see our own mistakes. What’s that saying? We judge others by their actions, and we judge ourselves by our intentions. To see one’s own mistakes is a powerful kind of wisdom, one that opens doors for helping others. I think one of the most painful lessons for Rand—but also the one that sets her free—is that she can’t find herself in other people. For much of the story she wonders, what would Xanda do? When she begins to make her own choices, she finds a surprising strength.

4. Tell Me A Secret also is a novel about the meaning of friendship.  What warning signs should a YA look for in their relationships that someone is not a true friend?

True, there are some wicked friends in Tell Me a Secret! Some of the warning signs? When you feel bad or sad or small or ashamed whenever you’re around that person. When it’s all about them. When they aren’t interested in what is important to you. When they blow off your concerns about their behavior. So many more, but it can be so hard to recognize when you’re in the middle of it.

When I was in high school, I hung out with a group of girls that were exactly like what I just described, but for some reason I just didn’t see it. I wanted things to get better. I thought if I could just work a little harder, or say the right thing, we would have a great friendship. Finally a girl I met in my English class, and who I talked with all the time, said, “Why do you even hang out with them? Why don’t you hang out with me and my friends?” I did, and she is still my very best friend. (In fact, we now say our friendship is over 21. J)

5. Rand is forced to take a job at a bank and give up her dreams of going to art school.  There’s a great lesson here about pursuing your dreams.  What’s your best advice to YA who have dreams, but are not sure that they actually can make them happen?

Thanks, Liza! I hope, if anything, that this book inspires readers to pursue their purpose in life. It doesn’t come easy. Sometimes I think it takes a whole lifetime to discover it, but there are glimpses. In our dreams, in our passions, in our talents. Miranda makes a decision that completely shuts one door—but what she gains is determination and courage to follow another course. The job turns out to be an asset to her, and in a way, she finds out the only person truly responsible for her future is herself. I would wish that for every person longing to pursue a dream.

Enter to win a signed copy of Tell Me a Secret.

It’s easy! 1. Click on comments and write that you’d like to win this book or comment on this post.  Or 2.  Tweet about it (let me know) Or 3. Post in on Facebook or link this interview on your blog. (let me know.)  Contest ends November 16, 8:00 PM CST.  Open to US residents.  Winner will be randomly selected from entries.

There Is NO Such Thing As ‘Privacy’ on FACEBOOK
May 25th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

If you seriously believe that anything you put on Facebook is private, you’re living on a different planet.  Facebook and any other form of social media

The best place for secrets might be with "people" who can't share them!


communication and even e-mails are not private.  Just ask all those CEOs whose e-mails have been subpoenaed for court cases or the teens who threatened to harm someone at school – their computers were seized.  (Or their cell phones! Watch those text messages.)  You may not be doing anything criminal, but you’re leaving a trail that may affect you for a very long time.

Privacy settings are a joke.  Anything you think is private can be copied, pasted, and shared with the world.  Yeah, I am seriously suggesting that you don’t trust any system on the Internet or the people with whom you are communicating with to keep your words or photos private.  In other words, be careful, very careful.  You post it, it’s public.  Period!

Many thanks to the many teens who shared their Facebook nightmare stories with me.  I invite you to share your stories with me too.


1. post things in anger or frustration.

Don’t ditz people, call them names, or use obscenities toward another person.  Sarah told me that after she broke up with her boyfriend, he posted nasty things about her on Facebook.  He called her a b-tch and some of his friends commented on his remarks, noting that she was a whore, among other things.  Sarah was so upset that she had a full-blown panic attack, including rapid breathing, a racing heart, and she said her hands went numb.  Her girlfriends were seconds away from calling 911, but managed to calm her down.  What ever happened to ‘Do onto others as you would want done to you?’

2. post embarrassing photographs of anyone.

This is a common example that I heard from several young adults – friends were drunk or doing drugs and someone photographed it.  You need to know that if you’re participating in underage drinking or illegal drug use, there is a chance that one of your so-called friends might photograph you with their cell phone camera.  He may not even think that it’s a big deal, that it’s actually funny! A nineteen-year-old girl explained that a friend of hers flashed her chest to some guys after a drinking binge.  One of the guys posted it on Facebook and the girl was deeply embarrassed by her actions.  Since she didn’t post the photo, she couldn’t remove it.  Finally, she convinced the guy to take it down, but not before his friends got a good look at her D cup.  Do you want your potential employers seeing this?  Friends?  Family?  Teachers?  Clergy?  It’s even possible that your photo will get used without your permission on other sites, and you may not even know it!  What started as a so-called joke can be turned into a personal nightmare.  Totally not cool!

3. post information that you don’t want revealed to world.

Tal told me about two – yes – two friends of hers that put on their status that they are gay.  Neither one of these young men had told their parents or their siblings.  Neither guy had friended their family members, so they thought that the information was private.  Hah!  Not at all shocking to find out that through the grapevine the information was leaked and the parents learned this important news by one of the friends.  What hurt the families the most was not that they found out that their sons/brothers were gay, but that everyone else knew about it before them.

4. share your deepest secrets in an IM on Facebook or any other written form of communication.

This type of correspondence can be copied and shared.  You have something you need to confess, then communicate in person or over the telephone.  Beth told her so-called best friend, Lacy, about her first sexual experience.  Lacy thought Beth’s description was humorous and shared it with her friends in her sorority.  Beth found out and needless to say, Beth and Lacy are no longer speaking to each other.  Lacy later told me that she wished that she had thought about it first, but didn’t.  If she had, she never would have showed Beth’s IM to others.

5. announce major life events before sharing them with the most important people in your life.

Danny told me that a friend announced that she accepted a spot at a university without telling her immediate family, including her parents.  Imagine their surprise when people started offering their congratulations via e-mail and IM.  The senior was so excited that she posted it on Facebook, but neglected to share the information with some of the most important people in her life.  Needless to say, they were a little upset that “they were the last to know.”  This rule also can be applied for happy news such as engagements, births etc.  Because social networking is instantaneous information, tell the people who are important to you first and ask others to wait a few hours before announcing the news to the world.  That way you can have the opportunity to share the good news with the people who are most important to you.

6. break up with someone, or quit a job or team via Facebook.

Have the guts to communicate directly with the individual, instead of using Facebook, e-mail, or texting as a means of getting out of a relationship, job, or team.  It’s so totally not okay.  At the very least, pick up the phone and have the guts to be honest with the other person/people involved.

7.  push the publish or send button until you double check who will be receiving the message.

Have you accidently sent a note on Facebook to the wrong person?  It happens every day!  Randi told me that she had this situation happen via text messaging.  A friend sent her a scathing text, which was extremely hurtful.  In the message she was called all sorts of names and said that she couldn’t be trusted.  It turned out that the text was intended for the girl’s boyfriend and not Randi.  In the end the girl was relieved and grateful that Randi saw it, and not her boyfriend because an hour later she felt differently about the situation.  As my other half says, “Let cooler heads prevail!”

Facebook and other social networking systems are fabulous ways to communicate instantaneously.  I love reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in ages and staying in touch with family and friends.  But with it comes tremendous responsibility.  Don’t let it be a substitute for face-to-face communication, especially for the important matters in life.  We need to talk through issues, be honest and direct.  Somehow, we’ve diminished this form of connecting with others.  Don’t let it become a way to embarrass or to hurt others.  Most importantly, never forget that the only way to guarantee that something remains private is not to share it!

Check out this powerful YouTube video that clearly illustrates how posting photographs on Facebook are never private:

This post was included in "Classroom Talk" - a blog by Maggie Cary -  http://bit.ly/2i1fc

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