6 Great Books for Teens


blumePhoto: One of my favorite teen authors.

I was a weird kid and an even weirder teen. I often stayed up after lights out reading–it almost didn’t matter what. I would check out library books by the dozen. Back then, my favorites were Judy Blume, V.C.Andrews, Stephen King and (don’t tell my mom) illicit romances.

Even more liberating, I discovered that the librarian would not even BLINK AN EYE at the titles I’d pick. The first time I tried to check out an inappropriate book, my heart raced and my palms dripped…I just knew that Old Man Clardy (who, now that I think about it, was probably in his 40s–DANG IT!) was going to call the cops on me–or the very least, my Sunday school teacher. When I saw that he was barely even awake and gazed at my selections with all the vigilance of a late night convince store clerk, I had an eureka moment.

This, I told myself, was a taste of freedom. Nobody cared what I read. The sky was the limit! I burned through books like Chelsea Handler and vodka. Nothing was too steamy–nothing too scary.

I still remember my first time reading Stephen King’s The Shining. Entranced by Jack Torrence’s steady descent into madness, I lost track of time. The next thing I knew, it was 2:00 a.m. and I was exhausted. I turned off the lights and prepared for a long rest–which never came. Thanks to my vivid (and a tiny bit obsessive) mental reenactments of  Danny Torrence’s visions and Jack Torrence’s violent escapades, I couldn’t even close my eyes.

That jacket hanging over the chair? Not a jacket at all–it’s Jack, holding a croquet mallet, waiting for me to doze. The longest night in the world gave way to morning, and I showed up to 8th grade biology looking a bit hung over and a lot nervous. When I went back to the library, I silently gave Mr. Clardy the stink-eye for not protecting me from my own reading choices. What the heck? Wake up and do your job, man!

Anyway,  Here’s a list of my top 6
picks for teens.
 I’ve made an effort to pick challenging, but not too horrifying/graphic books for your Mancub or Watergirl. Some of them are a bit darker, so if your kid shies away from that, I’d definitely avoid Speak. However, I found it a compelling and heartbreaking read that has stuck with me ever since I opened the covers. Mancub has listened to The Shining on audiobook as we were traveling home from Arkansas, and he really liked it. At least I think he did. But he is MY kid…so keep that in mind before introducing The Kingster to yours.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth


2. Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix  


4. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbi


5. Speak by Laurie Hulse Anderson


6. The Secret Life of Bees by  Sue Monk Kidd


JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What is your top pick for your favorite teen book?


7 Signs Mom and Dad Need a Date Night

7 Signs Mom and Dad Need a Date Night.

7 Signs Mom and Dad Need a Date Night


The scenario:

Sometimes when Watergirl comes to visit Mancub can’t help becoming all starry-eyed. He can actually be motivated to…wait for it…clean his room if that’s the condition set. They are really adorable, just sitting on the couch next to one another, holding hands, staring into one another’s eyes, basking in the heady feeling of young love.

I remember the days of my early courtship with my hubby.
The primping, eyelash curling, hair crimping, sliding into my best pair of stonewashed jeans (it was the 80s so back off). My hubby wouldn’t dare come pick me up without slicking back his impressive mullet,wearing his Izod polo, and zipping up his custom-made leather jacket. Oh the days of young love! We both looked like a million bucks…by 1988’s standards.

Fast forward a few decades. Most days, I don’t look like a million bucks…I’d be lucky if it was five bucks. Sometimes I get super lazy, and I feel like wearing my “lucky” yoga pants (read: the ones without holes) and my “Blue Man Group” t-shirt is dressing up enough. It’s soft and doesn’t have any stains. Makeup and hair? Are you kidding? For what? So I can look like Lady Gaga while I fry chicken and scrub the toilet? It’s hard to feel romantic when the sink is backed up and I’m not sure where that smell is coming from.

If you’ve been married long enough to have kids, then you know what I’m talking about. We get so busy with school functions, football games, band concerts, teacher’s meetings…it’s hard to carve out that time to spend together. To dress up and be somebody pretty for a while, and to reconnect with the most important person in our lives. BUT WE HAVE TO.

It’s not that the fire has gone out, really…it’s just that whenever there is a romantic moment, one of the kids shows up with a fire extinguisher. As we in the South are fond of saying, “Bless their little hearts.” It’s difficult to give romance priority when the sink is full of dishes, we’re out of milk, the hamster escaped and the dog just pooped in the kitchen. Sometimes we don’t even realize we need to spend some grownup time together.

Here are 7 signs mom and dad need a date night pronto, yesterday, STAT!

1. The last time you sat next to one another that didn’t involve a TV was at the principal’s office at your kid’s school.

2. You’re unsure if you could pick your husband out of a lineup.

3. The last time you went to a movie together, Mel Gibson was the star.

4. There are dents in the sofa where your butts have been, even when vacant.

5. It’s been months since you’ve eaten anywhere that doesn’t require yelling into a glow-in-the-dark speaker.

6. The last time your husband gave you “the look” was when you grilled him a steak.

7. The last time you felt the old stirring was when your hubby took out the trash without being asked.

Take heart, dear parent. All will be well again. Get a sitter, and visit a restaurant that doesn’t serve french fries or fake food in yellow wrappers. See a movie that doesn’t star puppets, princesses or talking Legos. Want to get really wild? Have a glass of wine (or the adult beverage of your choice) and reconnect to this man who stole your heart and knew you pre-stretch marks. You both deserve it.

Oh, and talk about something other than runaway hamsters.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What’s your favorite date night destination?

Your Teen and the Social Media Question

So it’s time for The Talk in the Bausinger household.

No, not that talk.

The scenario: I pick Mancub up from school. He tosses his backpack, binder and lunchbag in the back seat of the car with all the care of a baggage handler at the airport. The car groans from the weight of his treasures–for all I know he’s got bowling balls in there.

Don’t laugh. The first time I let him pack (for himself) for a weekend trip, he skipped the non-essentials such as clean t-shirts, deodorant and underwear. Instead, he brought what he viewed as nonnegotiable: his laptop (aka “the Craptop” ) and his discus for track which weighed approximately as much as 20 gold bouillon bars. I found this out when he splattered ketchup on his t-shirt and I told him to change.

 Let’s just admit that sometimes teens don’t make the best judgement calls. Heck, sometimes ADULTS don’t make the best judgement calls either.

bad judgement

Exhibit A: I decided to try on a hotel shower cap and pose for a photo at the church Ladies’ Retreat.

The conversation:

Anyway, the first thing he asks me is, “Mom, can I get on Twitter? Actually, can I get on social media altogether?”

Apparently, one of his teachers has been tweeting about his classes and the students have been talking about it. Those who follow  this  teacher on Twitter are in the “know” and those who don’t, well, don’t.

I’ve been avoiding this as best I can…I know many of his friends have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I’ve been able to say, “No Nate. IT’S AGAINST THE LAW FOR KIDS TO HAVE FACEBOOK.”

Technically this was true up until last year because you’re not supposed to sign up for Facebook until you’re at least 14. I could totally blame it on the rules, but now I can’t chicken out anymore. It’s totally my call to say yes or no.

But now, it’s not really Facebook anymore. Twitter is still hot (#awesome), but more and more Instagram, and something even more terrifying to me: Snapchat. It’s an app that allows the user to take photos “in the moment” with the mistaken idea that there’s no permanent record of the interchange. This kind of creeps me out.

Here’s a link to an article: “A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat”

According to NPR, teens are getting away from Facebook because they feel the old geezers (which is pretty much anyone who would actually use the term “geezer”) are taking over. They want their own geezer-free zone.

Read the Blanca Bosker’s article “Teens are Leaving Facebook for Facebook” on the Huffington Post:


As a college professor, I can tell you that schools and bosses, as well as potential bosses, immediately Google for information on prospective employees and students. In fact, an employer I used to work for had a guy whose entire job was to find employees on social media and to see how they were representing the company. Yes, this is absolutely true.

Anyway, it just seems like a bad idea to me. Since teens are not the best decision makers, it seems reckless to give them access to such a powerful platform. It’s similar to giving a kid who’s never driven a car the keys to an 18-wheeler.

But you know what? They’re already on there. Many of them have Facebook and Instagram accounts already.

They are Skyping their friends instead of calling. They talk to strangers all the time with online gaming. Many of them have smartphones with unlimited internet access which makes it nearly impossible to monitor their activity. Sure, there are apps available, and my son’s password for his computer is fair game. I can check his activity, the sites he visits, how long he stayed there, and what time his computer was in use. Is this creepy? Maybe.

There’s a fine line between freedom and peril. We have to know what our kids are doing online. Period.

I told Mancub that he could begin with Facebook but that the same rule applied to him that applied to his sisters: I get to be his friend and have access to his password. Of course he’s super excited about this.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What social media sites do you allow your teens to be a part of? Do you monitor their use? 

5 Reasons Why Moms Should Be Writers

jody recital

This week has been one of the busiest ever. My daughter Jordanne played her senior clarinet recital at the University of Texas at Tyler last night and we planned the most elegant of receptions to follow. Ok, it was an epic nacho bar — so not elegant, per se, but still fun. I don’t care who you are: put out free nachos and students will flock in like stoners to Colorado.

I was sitting at the computer goofing for a few minutes yesterday afternoon and Jody comes in. She has her hair in a stunning 1940s type up-do and she’s wearing her floor-length formal dress–all black lace and satin–and she’s gorgeous.

“Help me with my buttons?” She asks, completely unaware of how lovely she looks. Her makeup is perfect–her green eyes, the exact color of my mother’s and her mother’s, are lined and shadowed subtly.

She turns around and I slide the tiny black buttons into their corresponding hoops. “Don’t forget your pearls,” I manage to say.

All I can think is this: I don’t want to forget a second of today.

So much of our lives come and go at such a break-neck pace and certainly some days seem a bigger deal than others. But you know what? Every single second is just as precious as the moment that I watched my grown daughter play her recital, standing in the spotlight on stage, the sweet melody sounding to me every bit as lovely as music the angels sing.

One day, the memory will fade. I might not recollect the hush of the auditorium as she took the stage, the expression of the pianist, how Sarah sat next to me recording everything on her iPhone. I might forget how my husband stood behind silver serving trays and spooned nacho cheese out onto plastic containers for an hour, smiling and chatting with Jody’s friends who came through the line for seconds.

Lee serving nachos

I might forget Mancub and Watergirl as they sat in the row in front of us, transfixed on Jody’s performance onstage.

Yes, we took video and pictures, but there’s something special about writing the words down, describing every moment. Here are 5 reasons why moms should be the writers and transcribers of the family.

1. In the words of Trace Atkins, you’re gonna miss this. There’s too much happening every day to notice the tiny diamonds along the way. Kids grow up, people move on…this moment is never guaranteed to happen again. If you write about it something, it’s never really lost.Every moment, no matter how mundane, will someday be a treasure to take out and remember.

2. We’re the historians of the family. If we don’t write it down, chances are nobody will, and there’s something special about the point of view as seen through the eyes of a mother.

3. There’s a place where pictures fail and only words suffice. You can’t take a picture of the sound of a crowd at a little league game. You can’t snap a photo of the scent of freshly mowed grass at the park, or the smell of concession stand nachos and hot dogs. You can’t photograph the excited dialog of your son chatting along on the ride home about his first grounder.

4. There’s a form of honor in writing about an experience. Sometimes people just don’t know how much they mean to you until they see it in print. By taking the moment to put the words together on paper, you elevate what might seem like a common experience to the uncommon–the mundane to the special.

5. Moms are the treasurers of the family. We keep everything (well, almost everything–I did throw away some of Nate’s first grade homework that he guilt-tripped me into saving). Doesn’t it make sense that we keep the records of our family…the history of where we came from?

You don’t have to buy a leather-bound journal. You can blog, Facebook, or write a letter. The important thing is this: just start writing. You’ll be glad you did.





7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen.

War Eagle Women Mentioned on USA Today: “Must-See Book Trailers”!


My Southern gothic novel, War Eagle Women, is mentioned on the USA Today’s website under “Must-See Book Trailers” by Robin Covington.

Must-reads: 'Best Kept Secrets,' 'Baby Love'; interview with Tina Coleman Bausinger

She writes:

There is something compelling about gripping stories told simply, and the trailer to War Eagle Women by Tina Coleman Bausinger is a perfect example of this. The story revolves around the stories of generations of women — their good and poor choices in life and love — as told to a young woman who hovers between life and death. The video is pared down to a haunting piano melody, stark imagery and an intriguing script.

Here’s the link to the article and the trailer.


Nothing in writing is done in isolation. The book trailer, entitled “Sam’s Story,” was written and directed by Konner Hudson, a fellow student at the school where I attended and now teach for. We met last summer on a China Immersion Trip sponsored by the school.

The piano music that’s featured is composed and performed by Jay Williams, a very talented composition major at UT Tyler as well. My daughters, Sarah and Jordanne Bausinger, also music education majors at UT Tyler,  recommended Jay for this and hooked us up.

They also were instrumental in acquiring one of the locations. In fact, part of the trailer was filmed in Braithwaite Hall, a small concert hall on campus. We received special permission from Dr. Thrasher, the head of the music program at UT Tyler.

And I can’t forget Kalloway Hudson, the lovely actress who plays Samantha. Such outstanding acting.

Sometimes, writing and promoting a novel can be harrowing, heart-attack-inducing, and stressful.

But other times, it can be what’s it’s meant to be: so much fun.

Don’t have your own copy? Here’s the link.