Thursday, August 27, 2009


The Ex Games isn’t due out until September 8, but Barnes and says it’s ready to ship in 2 to 3 days. You know what that means. Barnes and heard a rumor that their shipment is in the stockroom somewhere. So it’s time for us to start looking for the book in stores, too! Either that or there has been some horrible mistake and Barnes and will take the “usually ships in 2 to 3 days” phrase off their web site in a few hours! Either one.

Well, whatever. I’m so excited, I’m starting this contest anyway, to get us in the winter spirit. It’s


1. If you are a youngling, first get permission for this from your Responsible Old Person.

2. Find a copy of The Ex Games. Library copies are fine. Take a photo of the book in snow or ice. No, it doesn’t have to be snow on the ground that fell from the sky. That would not be fair to my fellow Alabamians. We will not get snow until March, if then. Be creative. Take a picture of it in your sno-cone machine, or the freezer. Prop it up against your little brother’s Star Wars Ice Planet Hoth play set. I probably won’t know the difference.


Take a photo or draw a picture of a Winter Scene of Teen Love. (No book required.)

3. E-mail me the photo or picture at echolsjenn at yahoo dot com. To make this fair, I won't count any entries I receive before 8 p.m. Central on September 8, and I'll count them in the order I find them in my inbox.

4. The first seven entries before September 30 win a free signed copy of The Boys Next Door, Major Crush, or Going Too Far—your choice! (BTW, if you haven’t read The Boys Next Door, you need to do that before the sequel comes out next June. I’m just sayin.’)

5. Void where prohibited. Only residents of U.S. states may enter.

Update Sept 31: I just read a new article that says book giveaways requiring a purchase may be illegal in some places. I just want to give away some books IS THAT SO WRONG? *sniffle* Anyhoo, I have tweaked the contest rules a bit: a purchase is not required, and only residents of U.S. states may enter. I’m sorry, Finland.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here, Kitty Kitty!

I've always been a cat person. When my husband and I bought our first house, it didn't take long for us to get a kitten. She was very sickly and tiny at first, but she grew into the most beautiful, spunky, crazy cat I've ever had. That's Moxie, prowling behind me in the photo. Now she's very old and after several visits to the vet, it's evident she won't live much longer. But don't get sad; something great has happened!

You see, last week, my family was on a walk and as we passed a bush by the highway, I heard a kitten mew. The tiniest ball of gray fur came bounding out and instantly cozied up to us. After playing with her for a little while, my youngest son looked up at his dad with those big blue eyes and said, "Can I have the kitty for my birthday?" (Yes, it was the day before his third birthday. Smart kid, eh?) So we knocked on doors but no one had any info on the kitten. We took her home and introduced her to Moxie and fed her and played with her. The next morning, she'd left a dead mouse on our doorstep. (I'd rather a box of chocolate or a flower or something, but maybe she's trainable.)

I could go on and on about how fun little Zoey is, and how she's the friendliest cat I've ever known. But back to Moxie, our geriatric kitty. Bringing home the new kitten has breathed new life into her. She's out and about more, kind of showing the kitten the lay of the land. They eat together, sleep together, go on strolls together. It's really something! So I'm confident that if Moxie passes away sometime soon, her last days will have been improved because of the little kitten who chose to live with us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

You either love the thrift store, or you don't.

My husband loves the thrift store. I am not sure whether this is because he grew up without a lot of money, or because he now works as a salesman and loves the idea of making an advantageous trade. All I know is that he haunts the thrift store. He has ascertained that they put out new merchandise on Tuesday, and Thursday is two for one day. Several times he has almost bought pants there, then realized that they were his own pants that he gave away to the thrift store last year.

Lucky for him, we live not far from Unclaimed Baggage, which is even better than the thrift store (if you are into this sort of thing). This store buys lost luggage from the airlines and sells the suitcases and everything in them. It is a gold mine for the thrift store lover, and you are much less likely to buy your own pants. Many a time my husband has called me from Unclaimed Baggage to ask my advice on buying a table, or a bomber jacket, or clothes for our child. I always say


because I do not love the thrift store. The economy is bad and we need to tighten our belts like everybody else, but I am just sorry. I draw the line at the thrift store. You have no idea what the previous owner has done in, to, or with that stuff. It could be sprinkled with anthrax. It could be laced with marijuana residue, and the drug dogs will hunt you down. You know what you will say to the police? "But these are not my pants! There was a previous owner of these pants!" And you will sound like every other criminal on COPS.

I think a lot of my fear stems from a Nancy Drew book--not part of the newfangled series, but the original series that remains in your library only because the librarian is nostalgic about these books since she read them when she was a tween herself, back in 1805 or so. You know, the series in which Nancy has titian hair (whatever that is) and drives a sedan and wears smart outfits, and her father Carson Drew wears trousers, and her friend George (a girl with a boy's name--edgy!!!) has cropped hair and a boyish figure, and her friend Bess is pleasingly plump.

I want to say the book in question is The Spider Sapphire Mystery. Nancy and her boyfriend Ned (and probably George, Bess, Burt, and Dave, maybe even the motherly housekeeper Hannah--I don't know) take an overseas flight. They leave their suitcases unattended for a moment (DON'T DO IT NANCY AND NED YOU FOOLS) and when they pick the suitcases up again, their hands itch and burn! Is it psoriasis? Is it anthrax? NO IT'S ACID! While they had their backs turned, THE VILLAIN PAINTED THEIR SUITCASE HANDLES WITH ACID!!!!!!!!

You can see why a have a particular problem with Unclaimed Baggage.

In light of all this, imagine my dismay when I came home yesterday and found the following:

Me: Oh God, you've been to the thrift store again.

Husband: Who, me?

Me: How much did you pay for this?

Husband: Thirty dollars.

(I can tell he is lying. His trips to the thrift store are a veritable web of deceit.)

Me: It's ripped.

Husband: It's supposed to be that way, because it's a recliner.

Me: Recliners are not supposed to be ripped.

Husband: Okay, maybe I ripped it trying to get it up the stairs. It wasn't ripped when I bought it.

Me: Was it white originally?

Husband: No, it's supposed to be brown.

Me: Then why is it lighter brown on the top than it is on the bottom?

Husband: It isn't. I cleaned it.

Me: It smells.

Husband: That's the cleaner.

Me: (A) What I smell does not smell like cleaner and (B) YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY FURNITURE THAT NEEDS TO BE CLEANED!!!

Husband: Help me get it upstairs.

Me: No!

If I am lucky, this chair will soon be for sale again at our local thrift store. If I am unlucky, it will find a home in our den, where it will grace the atmosphere with its peculiar odor. Who needs Glade? And if I am very unlucky, my whole family is about to be hospitalized for anthrax. Or acid.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nine Pounds

Most writers I know reward themselves after finishing a book, mailing out a proposal, or working through a particularly tricky part of their work-in-progress. It's a great incentive to keep going when the writing isn't easy.

Some writers buy themselves a gift (jewelry, shoes, and handbags seem to be popular amongst my friends.) Others go get a manicure or a massage. Some take a day (or a week) away from the computer to get fresh air and/or travel before diving into the next project. I think rewarding yourself for a job well done is always a good idea, whether you're a writer or not.

Since I wrapped up a new proposal last week, I went to Holliston, Massachusetts (one of the towns featured in Sticky Fingers) to go blueberry picking.

Ever wonder what nine pounds of blueberries looks like? Me, too. Mostly because I picked nine, but only seven and a half made it to the counter for this photo by the end of the day. I was eating them like one might nosh on a bowl of popcorn. and a half pounds of blueberries:

Think this isn't a great writing reward? Three words for you: Homemade blueberry cobbler.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hotel Wi-Fi is as Flaky as I Feel!

One of the things I both fear and dread is summer travel. For various reasons, we have done very little this actual summer (did quite a bit in the spring). Seeing family is fun, but stressful, and going South means hot weather. I'm a little melt-y in hot weather, given that I've lived in Maine for 21 years (!?!). We knew we'd have to take at least one trip (part business for DH and part family), and we'd planned it in our minds for mid-August.

One week ago yesterday, DH told me our timetable had changed and we'd be going to Ohio...on Saturday. And then on to Delaware. So I frantically tried to catch up on everything I had to do (and the four unexpected things that dropped into my lap last week...sheesh!). I almost succeeded. I was pretty pleased. Everything I had left to do could be done in a hotel room with Wi-Fi. Or so I thought (cue ominous music).

What I can do: write; listen to my i-Pod; exercise in the fitness room; swim in the pool; check e-mail sporadically; send e-mail -- if there are no attachments (hence no pictures of Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls -- gorgeous!). Now, some of the work I needed to do requires me to send files, so this is actually a big problem. I've attempted sending the e-mail with files at various times of the day (and night). No luck.

All I can say is thank goodness for Starbucks. I know there is one in Delaware with nice, reliable Wi-Fi. I should be able to send out my files on Friday.

I'm trying to take lessons from the annoying obstacles in my life. From this one, I'm taking the lesson that I should enjoy the pool and fitness room when I can, and forgive the hotel its flaky Wi-Fi. After all, life is short, and there is a maid to clean my room!

P.S. I have updated my website after a long hiatus (ds1, aka my webmaster, was busy, but he finally figured out how to take my high maintenance DreamWeaver site and turn it into a low-maintenance Wordpress site). No fancy bells and whistles yet, but one day soon (when I am back with my lovely high speed internet access at home).

(going to stretch out, turn on my i-Pod and write guilt free for the rest of the no-housework day)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Love Off Limits hits shelves!

I think the last time I posted on the Simon Pulse ro com blog was when I had just finished writing Love Off Limits, and now it's available to purchase! Yes, time has totally escaped me. You're probably wondering why I've been a ghost around here. Well, I had another baby girl late last year. When you have two children under the age of three time moves differently. It flies. And two little ones are plenty enough to keep anyone away from their favorite blog let alone a hair salon, the grocery store -- even my own front yard most days. It has been a whirlwind and I can hardly believe that Love Off Limits is in bookstores!
I'm really proud of this book. It's full of irony and a little scandal too -- juicy. Natalie Dean, the heroine of my story, is leading a double life. By day, she is a secret columnist for the romance section of her school newspaper, dishing out sound advice for the romantically wounded and conflicted on campus. By night, she seeks help for her own love life on a popular love advice website. Why is she seeking advice? Because she has a whopper of a crush on her boyfriend's best friend, and doesn't know how to handle this impossible situation. I don't want to give away too much more, but I hope you all enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Okay, I should really go help my husband. I think he might be using the dust buster to remove food from my child's hair.