Crystal Velasquez Author Talks About Choices

Hey GirlMoguls – this month’s book club pick is Your Life But Better  – it’s a totally cool choose your own adventure type of book  – except you’ll be faced with moral dilemmas during a scavenger hunt at the mall – yup the book is pretty much all about you.  But right now we have a very special (and cool) message from the book’s author – Crystal Velasquez….

crystal-velasquezWhen I was twelve, I felt like I was as far away from being a girl mogul as I could possibly be. I had crazy, untamable hair, a gap between my two front teeth, and let’s just say that I was no fashionista. To top it all off, I had a loud, goofy laugh and a wild imagination. I also loved reading good books—and trying to write one myself—which sometimes made me the butt of jokes from the kids in my neighborhood. Why wasn’t learning the latest dance moves my top priority? How could I choose getting lost in an S. E. Hinton novel over playing video games with them? And what was with my obsession with writing poetry? Bottom line, I was weird, and worse, a nerd. Or at least, they seemed to think so.

Don’t get me wrong—I had friends and a great family who loved me just the way I was. But I often wondered why I couldn’t just be like everyone else. Maybe that’s why I always found myself taking the quizzes in my favorite teen magazines. They seemed like a way to figure out what made me tick. The problem was, when I read the choices, there were always two very extreme answers and one obviously correct answer. If you ended up the middle-of-the-road girl, you were normal. Anything else and well, you were an oddball. So rather than answer the quizzes honestly, I would choose the answers that would land me in that coveted middle-of-the-road category. If I couldn’t be like everyone else in real life, I would at least achieve that goal on the pages of the magazines.

Cut to several years later: I majored in creative writing in college, where suddenly my preoccupation with books and writing didn’t seem so weird after all. I won writing contests and scholarships and eventually landed a job in book publishing in NYC. I also became a freelance proofreader. So not only was I reading as much as I ever had, but I was getting paid to do it! Finally, one day while cruising the Internet for freelance writing jobs, I spotted an ad looking for writers for a new line of children’s books (which turned out to be the Maya & Miguel series). I applied—and what do you know? They hired me! I became a published author, and as a result, another amazing writing opportunity came my way in the form of the Your Life, but… series. Here at last was my opportunity to show girls through my own quizzes that there are no wrong answers; there are only the right answers for you. It’s so important to know and accept who you really are—the good, the bad, and the ugly—rather than aim to be a cookie-cutter image of someone else. Moguls, after all, tend to be people who follow their dreams, no matter how off the wall they might seem to everyone around them. I did eventually have that gap between my teeth fixed, but I still have crazy hair, an overactive imagination, a goofy laugh, and a serious book addiction—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Crystal Velasquez

January 2010