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Decisions are Only the Beginning a guest post by Julie Anne Lindsey

I was originally going to blog about the lies people tell us “for our own good” and how infuriating that is because let’s face it, we’re all tougher than people think. Then, my daughter’s babysitter came over to play with her while I wrote and plans changed. Babysitter was clearly in a funk and with a little coaxing she emptied her soul. “How am I supposed to pick a college when I can’t even pick out a dress for next weekend?” This was the beginning of a long talk. 

The list of decisions she felt pressured to make without enough time to think them through was extensive. Her life was in upheaval and no one noticed. Too many decisions. Never enough time. Always multi-tasking. Pulled in every direction and expected to smile. She wasn’t smiling. We cashed an entire pizza and half a two liter on this topic. The girl in despair at my kitchen table is entering her junior year of high school, but she was as desperate and burnt out as a woman twice her age. AKA my age. I had no idea. She’d hidden it so well before that day. I came out of the conversation with two key realizations. I think these are things we all know, but forget over time. I thought I’d blog about them while they’re fresh on my heart and in my mind.

1.      Teen are under far more pressure today than adults give them credit. On top of social dramas (ie best friends, boyfriends, teachers and bullies) and extra-curricular commitments (sports teams, school clubs and committees, plus homework), teens manage a full time workload at school which takes their entire day, part time jobs in the afternoons or evening and weekends, and volunteer positions, helping with the house or siblings and they navigate a maze of very complicated, deeply personal things every single day that no one sees. That’s a whole heck of a lot of pressure.
2.      It’s not really about the decisions. It’s about the aftermath. Everyone makes tough decisions, many of them are made poorly, but how we deal with the choices is what matters. 

When I look at what I’m reading with these two points in mind, I see it clearly depicted in my favorite stories. It doesn’t matter if the YA is contemporary or paranormal. The heroine can discover she’s been lied to her whole life and a serial killer has come to kill her, like in my story, Deceived, or the heroine may turn sixteen and have to choose between factions in her dystopian world, like the Divergent series, or the heroine may discover she’s pregnant. She may even learn she’s actually a Shadow hunter. Whatever the decision she faces, in every single case, no matter the setting or circumstance, the real story begins after the decision. No one cares how or why things happen, they want to know what you’re going to do about it. Okay, they might wonder how and why at first, but those things fade fast and all that’s left is the way we move forward.
Decisions and situations are fleeting. Nothing last forever. Not the tough times and definitely never the amazing ones. What it comes down to is that we make decisions and move forward. The beauty is that many decisions can be changed, even the hard ones. 
Sometimes the decisions are less scary/dangerous and more overwhelming in a paperwork and relocation kind of way. Like college. Choosing a college is daunting work. There are so many things to consider, from tuition to housing to geography, availability of on campus jobs, public transportation and financial aid. That’s just a short list, and where you attend college will likely change the course of your life. It’s huge. As permanent as college seems, you can change that too. 
No matter which decision has its hands around your heart or throat, it will pass. A decision will be made and then we have to live with the outcome…or make another decision to change that, outcome. For every heart-warming, awe-inspiring story of a teen overcoming the odds, there are dozens of similar stories that end poorly. The difference in how we perceive their stories is their reaction to the decision, ie: the aftermath. Do we accept the mistakes we make, lift our chins and do great things in spite of our past errors in judgment or do we wallow in one mistake that seems to define us and make a dozen more just like it? Justifying the downward spiral with lame words and thoughts like, “What can I say? I’m a screw-up.” Well….knock it off.
Life hands out a myriad trials and tribulations. The circumstance play out in each life differently. What matters a year later isn’t that it happened. What matters is what happened next
 
I didn’t get to write the post I had in mind, but I did get to know one young lady better. She faced many tougher things than choosing a college, but sometimes it’s that final straw that tips us over the edge of self-control. Choosing a dress for a wedding she didn’t think she had time to attend was the straw for her. I had no idea the personal battles she underwent daily, but what happens next is all up to her. I have faith she’ll come through her struggles stronger for the experiences and will one day be a great help to another girl in her place. She has many big decisions to make, but the good news is decisions are just the beginning.
DECEIVED by Julie Anne Lindsey

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imGynqj2CUU]
Ever since she could remember, Elle has had to hop from town to town to keep up with her dad’s demanding career as a corporate insurance agent. Each time, a reoccurring nightmare followed her wherever she went–until the day that the frightening figures haunting her at night became all too real. When news of a serial killer spreads throughout her new school, Elle worries that the Reaper has been leaving her his calling card in the form of cigarette butts on her doormat and an unusual ribbon in her locker. With the help of Brian, a boy she meets at a flea market, she discovers that this isn’t her first encounter with the murderer and that her father has been concealing her true identity for the past twelve years. But despite her father’s desperate attempts to protect her, Elle still comes face to face with the darkness she has been running from her whole life. Trapped in the woods and with help hundreds of miles away, will Elle be able to confront the Reaper and reclaim the life she lost?

Available September 18th on Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository and more.
About Julie:
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. In 2013, Julie welcomes five new releases in three genres including her newest title, DECEIVED, a YA suspense from Merit Press, and her first cozy mystery, MURDER BY THE SEASIDE, book one in the Patience Price, Counselor at Large series from Carina Press (a digital imprint of Harlequin). 
Julie is a self-proclaimed word nerd who would rather read than almost anything else. She started writing to make people smile. Someday she plans to change the world. Most days you’ll find her online, amped up on caffeine and wielding a book.
Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime (SinC) and the Canton Writer’s Guild.
Find her online:
Tweeting her crazy @JulieALindsey
Soothing her book obsession on GoodReads
Pinning the pretty on Pinterest
Tumbling lamely on Tumblr
Blogging about books and writing at Musings from the Slush Pile