frustrated teens two 

Why are teenagers so easily susceptible to peer pressure? Well, just like adults teens are influenced by their peer group. As adults we conform to the social standards set by our peer groups—people we like to associate with. And we associate with certain people for a variety of reasons. Often times we share a history with a person, or they have the same views as us, same likes and dislikes, or similar personalities. Therefore, it is quite normal for our teens to model are behavior. However, the flip side of this is when teens begin to follow their peers who are “acting out” and doing things that are not appropriate, even when they know better.

Parents don’t panic. Part of the reason your teen is suddenly breaking rules and hanging out with that fast-talking girl or slick boy is merely due to wanting acceptance and the ‘newly found’ importance of friendships. With new budding friendships comes curiosity, attraction, and the simple fact that teens love it when someone takes an interest in what they have to say. Teens like to feel secure with themselves, and often times this feeling is strengthened when they are amongst their friends.

Of course there will be times when your teen will not use his or her better judgment and be sucked into peer pressure, but that’s just part of the growing process from adolescence to adulthood. 

Parents, remember this: If you instilled good values in your teen since they first learned to grasp the concept of what’s good and what’s bad, these values will make it through the trials of adolescence and into his or her adulthood.


Deborah Copeland is the author of The Kids at Latimar High, an amazon.com best-seller. She is also a foster-mother of three tenacious teens, and have worked as a Social worker and mentor.


Welcome to APOOO, Debbie! 

debbie-copeland-1In 140 words or less, tell us a little about you.   I’m a Naïve New Yorker. I grew up surrounded by art, music, and books.  My sisters and I went to Broadway plays, off-Broadway plays, and Alvin Ailey Dance performances almost every week! I gather these influences helped mold my quirky, energetic, and fun-spirited personality. I’m quite the social butterfly. Although, I do have a quiet side to me, where I like to isolate myself from the world and read a good book, or write!!  





 In 140 words or less, tell us why your  book would make a great addition to our personal library.  Summer Love, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of Hater-aid is part of a five book teen series. The series is about a group of friends from diverse backgrounds who share their significant teen years growing and maturing together at Latimar High.  

 In Summer love, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of Hater-aid, love is definitely in the air at Latimar High. But as the love bug bites Lauren and her friends, Lauren discovers that she has a nemesis-Lina, the new girl at school, and Lina wants much more than Lauren’s spot as editor of the school paper. However, Lina is not the only one sneaking around and plotting. Someone has wicked plans for Rosalyn, too. New love is put to the test, friendships are broken, and trust is hanging by a thread at Latimar High. 

 When you write, do you develop the plot or the characters first?  Why? I would say the plot because I usually get inspired by something, such as a song, that takes me back to a special place, or the weather, a thunderstorm or a foggy night. And then I visualize the concept, and then write it down. And believe it not, the characters start evolving as I write.  

 You are a young adult author.  Did you choose this genre or did it choose you?  Do you have a desire to write in any other genres?  If so, which ones?  As far back as I can remember, I’ve always delved into the tween and teen genre. I remember when I was about eleven-years-old I wrote a story called, “A girl name Celeste.” And then another story called “A room with a garbage view.” There’s a part of me that never grew up and because of this, I can draw from “my inner teen” and write young adult fiction. Another major influence in my YA writings is my son. Being a single mom, my son and I are very close. And I made it my business to know ALL of his friends and their idiosyncrasies. (Yep, my house was “The Club House” for my son’s friends all through high school. Even now, his buddies still come over. lol).

 As a writer, I consider myself to be creatively diverse. I have written three screen plays. In fact, one of my scripts was optioned in 1998.  I also write Adult fiction. There’s an unfinished manuscript that I need to finish-it’s a romance novel! Will I finish it? Yes, hopefully next year. This year my son and I are collaborating on a children’s book. Oh, my son, Thomas, is a very talented artist. He’s the illustrator of my book covers.  

 What’s the main message you want readers to take away from Summer Love, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of Hater-aid?  Well, it’s written for the teen market. So, I would say for teens to realize that “growing pains,” are just part of that awkward transition to adulthood. So when you have problems, you may think, “Oh, my God, it’s the end of the world!” But it really isn’t. Things have a way of working out, and in the process, making you a stronger person.

 Describe a day in the life of Debbie Copeland.  I’m like an oxymoron. There are days that I wake up and my day is completely structured and organized:  Shower, coffee/breakfast, turn on laptop, check emails and Blogs, more coffee, water the plants, write three hours straight without a break, ignoring phone calls, IM’s until I full-fill my three hours of  “creative zone time.”  But some days I totally deviate from my own rules and find myself packing to go on a road trip to San Francisco with some friends, like right now! Lol…We’re leaving on Monday, hitting the road for some adventure and fun!

 If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be? What sorts of memories does the smell evoke?  The smell of the rain makes me nostalgic. It doesn’t rain much in California, but when it does, I stop everything I’m doing. I turn down the radio or TV, or I pull over in my car to watch it fall. The smell of rain takes me back to New York…my childhood, walking my dog, Tip, in the rain and singing, “Singing in the rain.”  (Yeah, I actually did that  lol)…But most of all, I remember sitting on the porch with my mother; she and I quietly watching the rain fall; it’s magical rhythm calming and soothing us.   

You have to be escorted to work by a mime, a marching band, or a color commentator… which would you prefer and why? LOL…What a great question! Definitely a marching band! Everyone knows when Debbie Copeland has entered a room. I’m very outgoing and sociable. My son told me once that I should have my own talk show because I can start a conversation about anything. Yeah, okay, I can admit it, I’m bubbly and boisterous. LOL 

   If you were to choose any fictitious world in any piece of literature, which place or book would you live in and why?  I would love to be zapped to Narnia.  C.S. Lewis captures a world where humans, mythical creatures, and animals that talk abound together. The land itself is breathtaking. I, for one, would love to wake up in a beautiful forest where trees talk amongst each other and tree fairies come to life and dance right before your eyes. Why would I want to live there? Well, it seems I’m always seeking beauty and peace amongst a decaying world that we live in.  

April is National Poetry Month.  Are you a poetry writer or lover?  If so, share with us one of your favorite poems or tell us who is one of your favorite poets and why.  I do write poetry. I wrote A LOT of poetry when I was a teenager. I haven’t written a poem in a long time, like four years! Mainly because I’ve been too busy writing books. But when the mood strikes me, I like to read E. E. Cummings or Robert Frost because I’m a total romantic and a nature lover. One of my favorite poems by E. E. Cumming is, “in Just.”  (Spelled just like that, by the way, no CAP on “in” Lol).    

Debbie, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to hang out with APOOO!

This year I am totally going to Rock The Drop with Readergirlz! Are you?  The point of the event is to have teens and authors drop their favorite books. So anyone can do it. Well, what are you waiting for? Get to dropping!

Operation Teen Book Drop

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Recession got you down? Are you a writer in limbo waiting for the economy to turn around and for book sales to pick back up? Well, don’t panic. You are not alone. Everyone is feeling shaky, praying that the economy will stabilize, even quirky writers, like myself, with hopes of our books making the best seller’s list sometime in the twenty-first century.


So when you’re feeling down because another one of your favorite stores at the mall has closed its door, or you or someone you know have lost their job, remember to keep what you love close to your heart. Never abandon your true passion. Never stray away from your dream of being a successful writer.


To help you stay true to this golden rule, here are a couple of author survival tips to get you through these shaky times and to keep you focused on your writing.



First let me just say that being in limbo land, or feeling like you’re in a cocoon might not be a bad thing, IF you take advantage of the new solitude and extra time. So,


1)     Take advantage of any new time or extra hours you may have now (even if they were afforded to you by a misfortune, such as, a lost of employment or cut in hours). AND, finish that novel you started months ago. Get started on that new project from all those concepts you’ve written down.


2)     Continue to market your books, even if the fish isn’t biting right now. Find inexpensive and free ways to market your book during the recession. Recession or not, the point is to keep your book titles alive and fresh in the consumer’s mind. They may not buy your book right now, but chances are your title is saved in someone’s little cart of books to buy later. Remember, marketing a book or a product is subliminal, just like all those annoying commercials we watch, BUT NEVER FORGET. Keep marketing your book to keep it fresh and alive in the consumer’s mind.


3)     Build friendships and networking opportunities with other authors. A lot of authors are coming together and doing Author book tours at libraries, book stores, community centers, and even churches. (This is very effective, especially if the author writes the same genre as you).


4)     Continue to nurture your writing skills. Enroll in that creative writing class you always wanted to take. (A lot of writing classes are online now). Most community colleges offer creative writing classes that are free or quite affordable.


Most importantly, fellow writers and authors keep writing. Stay true to your passion no matter what. Remember you may be in a cocoon right now, but you are in a stage of development and renewal. And soon you will emerge from your cocoon fresh and beautiful, ready for the world again.


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“What are teens reading anyway?”



With all the hype of vampire and fantasy books reigning the young adult literary scene, I was very surprised to discover that there are some teens that aren’t, quote: “into those types” of books. At the youth center where I work, I was stunned to learn that not all teens have been effected by the vampire-fantasy-books-glitterier. Of course, this discovery intensified my curiosity. So after days of musing over this fact, I was dying to know—just what are teen reading anyway? Thus, began the creation of my Teen Reading Group at the youth center.

During our very first Teen Reading Discussion, I decided not to implore the teens with specific books to read, but to find out what they were reading and why?  Most of the teen girls in attendance were reading contemporary fiction, or hip chick-lit, as I like to call it, (Hip chick-lit that is not street or Gangsta literature) and Christian young adult fiction. Authors, such as, L. Divine,  the “Drama High Series,” Deborah Gregory, “The Cheetah Girls,” and her new series, “CATWALK,” Sherri L. Smith’s, “Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet,” Sharon Draper’s, “Hazelwood High Trilogy,” Katrina Burchett’s, “Choices,” and Stephanie P. Moore’s, “Skky Perry,” series were popular reads amongst the group. With only a few boys in the group, two at that, they mildly scoffed at the dominant female interest in contemporary fiction/hip chick-lit; Comic books, such as Anime seem to be their thing. 

Nevertheless, the focus point of the first meeting was to find out why the teens read what they read. And let me tell you, I got some eye-opening and noteworthy answers. The teens that read contemporary fiction/hip chick-lit, said that one: They could identify with the characters. Being African-American and Latino, they gravitated towards these books because they saw themselves in the book; they also pointed out cultural similarities with the characters. But what was more interesting to hear, (and what I felt was the heart of connecting with a book) was that the teenagers expressed relating to the problems, or conflicts that the protagonist was going through, whether it was some every day teen-drama or challenging and deep stuff—that was the pivotal connection for them. It was at that moment that I realized that the teens in my reading group related to books and stories that were real—real in their teen lives.

          Another teen intelligently pointed out that she appreciates diversity in the books she chooses to read: “Not all African American teens use drugs or live in the ghetto. We come from different social and economic backgrounds. So when an author writes about us, it’s nice not to be stereotyped—a lot of  black teens live in the suburbs and live in decent communities too.”

          Spoken from the mouths of our youths—I couldn’t have said it better. African-American and Latino teens are looking for more realistic and positive portrayals of themselves in young adult books. As an author of contemporary young adult fiction, or as I like to put it: “Hip Chick-Lit,” I, for one, certainly concur. After all, characters and stories not only entertain us, but inspire, uplift us, and define who we are inside.





Deborah Copeland is the author of The Kids at Latimar High and Summer Love, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of hater-aid. She lives in Southern, California, where she works with troubled-teens and enjoys writing contemporary/Hip Chick-Lit fiction for the young adult market.





“Can creative writing be taught?”

During a recent teen zone event for my new book “Summer Love, Pink Snowballs, and a Splash of Hater-aid,” a lot of the teens in attendance asked me if creative writing can be taught. I must admit that I was a little stumped on this question during the Q & A part of my book talk. Can creative writing be taught? The truth of the matter is I never really thought about it because I’ve been writing since I was seven-years-old. Ever since I can remember spending hours in my room alone, mostly on rainy days, transforming my feelings and thoughts into a poem, or a short story inside my special notebooks and colorful journals has always come natural for me. As a child, creating a different world than the one I actually lived was a lot of fun; it was like having a delightful secret that I didn’t have to share with anyone. And it made me happy. Being able to transcend feelings on paper by creating characters and scenes was not only entertaining, but therapeutic. (Only I didn’t connect the latter effect to later on in life). So, to answer the question: Can creative writing be taught? I would say “no” because I believe that creativity is an innate gift much like a person who is born with a beautiful voice. Not everyone can sing, and not everyone can sit down and write for hours and hours creating whole new worlds.
     However, I do believe that creativity can be tapped into, developed, and nurtured. There are techniques one can learn to improve their creative writing abilities, such as, writing skills, character development, building narrative, plot conflicts and exposition. A lot of the universities, community colleges, and even online sites offer courses in creative writing, and specific courses, too, such as, non-fiction writing, writing memoirs, and even writing for the young adult market.
     Still, to be able to write, one must have an idea or a story to begin with. And that I believe comes from deep within. For me personally, as a writer, most of my stories come from a moment in time that I want to capture forever. And what better way to do that then to transform those memories, whether good or bad, into a story. After all, as the creator I can choose to turn what might seem like an ordinary day, or a chance encounter into the extraordinary—and that, my friend, is when the magic comes in—that creative magic from deep within.

Debbie Copeland is the author of The Boogie Down Clique Novels: The Kids at Latimar High, Summer Love, Pink Snowballs, And a Splash of Hater-aid. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outreaching in her community, mentoring troubled-teens, and supporting The Nature Conservancy.






In today’s world, it’s refreshing to read a book that promotes teen abstinence and challenges teens to strengthen their spiritual relationship with God. Katrina L. Burchett’s teen novel, “Choices” does just that. It was a privilege for me to take some time out to interview Katrina L. Burchett. So, let’s get started…


PTC: Katrina, what inspired you to write “Choices”?


KB: Every time I heard the statistics—percentage of teenage pregnancies, percentage of teenagers having sex, etcetera—that’s all they were: statistics. Statistics with no real explanation accompanying them got me to thinking about all of the different reasons there must be for these young people to make the choice to engage in premarital sex. I also made a few bad choices in my younger years, and I wanted to write a story that, hopefully, would help girls not to make my mistakes.



PTC: Do you feel that young women/teens today make the wrong choices because of worldly influences, such as, the media?


KB: I guess that can be true for the ones who really want to fit in. But there are people who seem to want to blame the media for everything, when it’s the responsibility of the parents to know what their children are taking into their minds, and to school them on right and wrong.  I have told my teenage son many times to guard the gateway to his spirit; be careful of what his ears listen to, and what his eyes watch. I want to know what movie he wants to see with his friends, I want to know what kind of lyrics are on the CD he’s thinking about buying. He calls me overprotective, but, oh well, he just has to deal with the fact that his mom loves him. And if I had a daughter and she called herself leaving the house with her breasts  half out of her top and a skirt way above her knees because that’s what so and so wore on her favorite television show, or that’s what girls are wearing in the magazines, she’d be marching herself right back to her bedroom to change. We’re all going to make wrong choices sometimes, but if parents and guardians are their strongest “positive” influences, young people are more likely to make the right choices.



PTC: When people read your book, what is the message you wish to leave your readers with?


KB: When we girls mess up—whether we allow guys to use us, we trust the wrong guys, we stand in harsh judgment of our friends, we make a decision that puts us in a situation we weren’t ready for—we can always begin again, and make better choices the next time. God doesn’t hold our mistakes against us. He forgives, so we should accept His forgiveness, learn to forgive ourselves and move on.


PTC: Do you feel like Christian Teen Fiction is in a category by itself compared to mainstream Teen Fiction?


KB: You know, I went into a bookstore with my husband a little while back, and I checked for Jacquelin Thomas’ Christian Teen Fiction. I found it in Teen Fiction. I checked for Victoria Christopher Murray’s Christian Teen Fiction. I found it in Teen Fiction. Then I went to the Christian Fiction section, and I saw Christian Teen Fiction there that wasn’t written by African American authors. So, okay, maybe it was just the particular establishment, but if all Christian Teen Fiction can’t be displayed together in a bookstore, what message does that send? It seems the categories aren’t always consistent.



PTC: What are your thoughts on Christian Novelist, Stephanie Perry Moore and her success with her books? She recently landed a TV/film deal with Tyler Perry’s Production Company.  Have you read any of her books?


KB: I noticed so many of her titles on Amazon; she’s really puttin’ ‘em out there!Your mention of her work sparked an interest, so I purchased the first two books in her Perry Skky Jr. series. They were good reads, and it’s great about the TV/Film deal.


PTC: Who are your favorite authors? Who were your favorite authors as a teen?


KB: Ever since I read Sisters & Lovers, I decided that my favorite author is Connie Briscoe, and I really liked the books I read by Anita Richmond Bunkley, Ernest Hill, and Jacquelin Thomas. Although I loved to write (mostly poems) as a teen, I must admit that I didn’t read a whole lot, so I didn’t have a favorite author back in the day.



PTC: What are you reading now?


KB: The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere. I saw this cute little book in the bookstore and I had to buy it; the beautiful artwork on the cover is what drew my attention.


PTC: What are your hopes and desires for Choices?


KB: I would like for people to read it, enjoy it, get something good from it, and then tell other people about it so they’ll read it, enjoy it, get something good from it and then tell other people about it so they’ll read it, enjoy it, and get something good from it…I just want to use my God-given talent so He can bless many, many people through me.


PTC: Can readers expect more books written by you in the future?


KB: Yes, they can. Choices is the first of a trilogy. The next novel will focus on teen parenting (LaKeeta & Kevin) and the relationships that Shauntice, Angel, LaKeeta, Bridgette and Hope have with their parents. It will also reveal more about the lives of the teenage guys in Choices. And the third novel will focus on teens drinking—an issue touched on in the preceding novels.


PTC: Thank you, Katrina, for the interview.


KB: You’re welcome, Debbie. Thank you very much for thinking of me. I really appreciate your support.