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Given the trendiness of Throwback Thursday, I’m re-branding my beloved series of guest author posts called “Self-Deprecating Sunday.” Self-Deprecating Sunday started because I’d written a YA novel about a girl in R.O.T.C. in high school. I was looking for photos of myself in my uniform–had to get the description of the uniform just right. I found some of those photos. I’m the one in the ridiculous glasses,  on the right. EPSON MFP imageEven beyond R.O.T.C., it really cracked me up to look back on all the outfits I wore and what I knew was hip and cool, so I started showcasing some of that on my blog. So much of being a teen is about exploring your identity; it’s partly why I love writing about teens. We all get through the awkward years–some of us with more flair than others, and it is fun to look back. Young adult authors around the Internet joined in with me to celebrate their youthful escapes.

Today, I’m thrilled to have my friend and Critique Partner (Capitalized because she’d just that good), and debut author, Shannon Lee Alexander, join me for our first installment of Throwback Thursday! Her wonderful novel, Love and Other Unknown Variables hit shelves Tuesday and is getting some beautiful reviews.

So without further ado, here’s Shannon Lee Alexander doing her Throwback Thursday thing:

My family moved to a small southern town when I was in fifth grade. I immediately met two amazing friends, my Em, to whom Love and Other Unknown Variables is dedicated, and Avery, who was the kind of friend you could just be with. Also, her mom had a shiny tiara and a scepter encased in a glass table in their living room, which I always thought was pretty cool.

My parents were Yankees. They’re totally southerners now, but back then, we were all somewhat confused by southern customs. For example, barbecue did not mean cooking out on the grill. It was some strange, vinegary, shredded pork concoction that southern people would go to war over if someone were to question its honor.

And then there was cotillion. Everyone assured my mother that every proper southern young lady should be attending cotillion. And while I was not so good at proper, I was desperate to fit in, so I begged to go. Basically, at cotillion, boys and girls at the awkward age of thirteen are forced to learn ballroom dancing. I was slightly tall, and hated sticking out, so of course, EVERY SINGLE TIME I’d end up paired with the shortest boy in class. It was unpleasant for us both.

I think maybe etiquette was taught, too, but by that time in the evening I was too overwhelmed from having to dance with a boy to pay attention. I just wanted the watered down lemonade and cheap cookies that were calling to me from the refreshment table in the corner of the room.

Today’s picture is of Avery and me dressed for the first shannon TBTcotillion. My dad was pretending to be grumpy about us going off to dance with boys. We’re laughing, but inside I wanted to cry. Growing up is a strange Tango of wanting to be grown and wanting to stay small.

As a fun aside, Avery and I fell out of touch during college, but recently rediscovered our friendship. Our shared love of reading brought us back together. Her blog, Flutters and Flails, is even featured on the back cover of Love and Other Unknown Variables, which was a fun surprise to us both!

Thank you, Shannon, for joining me. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by the blog. Readers, check out Love and Other Unknown Variables, a beautiful story of love, hope and ache of growing up.

And, if you’re a YA writer and wish to be featured on Throwback Thursday (formerly Self-Deprecating Sunday), please contact me at jody(dot)mugele(at)gmail(dot)com, or leave a comment.