Thursday, March 29, 2007

signs of spring

In my last post, I moaned about winter. Someone must have heard my griping, because in the past few days the weather in NYC has been a dream. And I've been doing lots to celebrate.

First order of business: Shake Shack. For those of you who don't yet know about this divine place, you must discover it. Shake Shack was dreamed up by fancy chef Danny Meyer, so the food is delicious, but it's designed to look and feel like a roadside or beach-side food shack in the summertime (and it's pretty cheap). It's a little hut in the middle of lovely Madison Square Park, which is only open seasonally (March through October, I believe), serving the yummiest burgers, hot dogs, fries, shakes, ice cream, and "concretes" (frozen custard with mix-ins like Oreo cookies). You take your food to one of the many little tables or benches and enjoy eating either beneath a cloudless blue sky or, as I did with my boyfriend the other night, an array of twinkling nights. Springtime perfection...

I also did my first round of spring shopping: for SHOES! As anyone who knows me can attest, I have a real thing for shoes. And because I love shoes so much I tend to wear mine to death, so I need to start over with a fresh batch every season (at least, that's what I tell myself). Yesterday I purchased round-toed polka-dot cork wedges (white with black polka dots), gold ballet flats with suede-tipped toes, and red flats with white polka dots (can you tell I'm going to be very much about polka dots this summer?). I find there are few things more satisfying in life than arriving home with a big bag full of new shoes, knowing that in (hopefully) a few weeks time, the weather will graciously allow you to wear them.

The other reason for all this reckless behavior (burgers! shoes!) is that I've handed in the first draft of my manuscript (woo-hoo!) so I now have a mini-break while I wait for my editor to get back to me. As soon as she does, I'll have to return to the grind for a little bit, so I feel I better soak up this freedom while I can. It's kind of like nice weather in New York: you know it can't be forever, so you try to enjoy every moment.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Back to Brooklyn!

I was born in Brooklyn. That's more than a statement--it's kind of a badge of honor. Brooklyn may be one of the five boroughs, but it's a world of its own, with its special neighborhoods, foods, and even its own unique language. (And it also has our fearless editor, Michelle now!) It's a unique place in the universe, and even though my family moved away when I was just nine, I still have an attachment to the place. Maybe it's because I was the third generation Brooklynite in my family! With roots like that, I guess you could say my family Tree Grows in Brooklyn --one of my fave books, of course!
I've been living in Manhattan for so long now, though, that I'd sort of forgotten where those roots were. So I was really glad to go to Bay RIdge Brooklyn this weekend for a signing at a store called The Bookmark Shoppe. Sure it was an hour on the R train each way, but it was worth it. The minute I went above ground, I was greeted by the smell of the best pizza I've ever eaten (South Beach diet be damned!) and some of the nicest people I've ever met. This store is not part of a chain. It's a neighborhood bookstore where the owners literally know all of their customers by name. And even more importantly, they know books! Kids came in with their moms to talk about my Katie Kazoo books for younger kids, and some young teens stopped by to pick up copies of She's Got the Beat amd talk about . . .books! We had a blast. In short, they made me feel at home. Which is where I was, sort of, I guess.. .

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Simon Pulse Ro-Com Mini-Event!

I'll be signing MAJOR CRUSH on Saturday, March 31 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Wynfrey Hotel at the Galleria in Birmingham. As for Simon Pulse Ro-Com authors, it'll be just lil' old me. But YA author Caridad Ferrer will be signing too, as well as lots of authors of adult romances: Linda Howard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and 25 others. So bring your mom!

Don't be afraid. If Jennifer misspells her own name while signing your book, she'll buy you a new one! And that's a promise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Ack, we found out over the weekend that my mother-in-law Jean has a bad form of cancer, and it's really thrown us for a loop. The worse assessment only gives her three months. She's really terrific and has never really been sick before. She's in her eighties, so it's not the tragedy it is with a younger person. I should mention that I've been married 25 years, so Jean is a big part of my life. Flying out in shifts, tough work ahead.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Speaking of pets...

So, it turns out that Bridget Jones has doggie separation anxiety.

This is not a joke.
After the umpteenth time coming home to find my mail shredded and my bed turned inside out (NO. idea. How she does that.), Noah decided it was time to be proactive. While I slumped over on the couch, managing only a weak, rueful shake of the head, Noah hit Google. Her symptoms, such as they are, only seem to take place when we are not at home. Tendency to bite or chew? Yes. Tendency to have "accidents" inside, even after housebreaking? Check. Becoming overly excited when we come home? Well, yeah, but that one's really cute so it doesn't bother me that much.

If your dog has one or more of those symptoms, he/she has clinical anxiety disorder.

My dog has ALL of those symptoms.

Since the treatment seems to be either doggie Prozac ( or behavior modification, I now find myself staging elaborate "practice leaving" sessions wherein I zip myself up in my parka and perch down on the couch. I'm also not allowed to make a big fuss when I leave or when I return. It's all about playing hard to get with Miss Jones.

Have I mentioned that my grandfather was a fairly esteemed psychoanalyst (in as much as an analyst *can* be "esteemed;" I mean, he wasn't Freud), and that seventy-five percent of my family members are either therapists or extremely well-therapized? So I guess it's only natural that I'd end up with the most neurotic pooch in the Tri-state area.

Obviously I adore her anyway.

Does that mean I'm an "enabler?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Great Pet Hunt

First--Jen, you amaze me. I am so computer-fixated that I think I've forgotten how to write longhand. (Seriously. No one can read my writing unless I s..l..o..w....w..a..y.....d..o..w..n. And I'm too impatient for that!)

Here, I'm on what my husband is now referring to as the Great Pet Hunt. I recently lost my dear baby, a cat named Quincy. I've had The Mighty Quinn for twelve years, ever since I got out of school (in other words, the pet came before the husband, a fact of which the cat was WELL aware.) It's been hard not having him around the house. How can it not affect your daily life when you're constantly being attacked by a twenty pound, completely blind Siamese cat with a yowl that stops traffic? I thought, at first, that it'd be a long, long time before I got another pet, because I loved MY SPECIFIC cat. I want the pitter patter of little animal feet around my house again. My cat was my writing buddy--he'd crash on my knees and occasionally take swipes at the laptop. He also knew to howl for food, which was good because it got me off the couch every once in awhile. And I am ready at this point to find a new writing buddy. One who needs to find a home and lots of love.

This brings me to the Great Pet Hunt. I'm going to make a confession: I'm addicted to cruising It's the best site in the world for those who want to adopt a pet. You can search rescue centers and humane societies in your local area for all kinds of pets in need of love. But just "cruising" Petfinder is torture. I want to adopt ALL of them! Of course, that's impossible. Plus, I'm going on a trip next week, and another in April, and I think it'd be unfair to a pet to adopt them and go on two vacations right away. So Not Cool. But can I keep myself off of Petfinder? NO.

So when I'm not here, and I'm not writing...chances are, I'm going to be Pet Finding. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Just call me low-tech Echols

When I was a teen reading YA novels, I pictured Lois Duncan and Paula Danziger starting on page 1 and happily typing all the way through to page 300. My own writing process has not turned out this neatly. I tend to start on page 1, jump to 300, muddle about in the 200s, and write a clean final draft of pages 59 to 94 before finally making it back to 2. Also, I write everything out longhand before I type it in.

My longhand habit began with my first novel. I started this novel in a creative writing class at Auburn University and finished it at my first job after college, as a copyeditor for the Montgomery newspaper. Every day on my dinner hour, I would walk a few blocks to sit on the steps of the Alabama state capitol building, eat a peanut butter sandwich I’d brought from home, and write. I didn’t buy my first computer until revising this novel on a typewriter nearly drove me insane.

Now I have a laptop, but I still feel much more comfortable writing longhand. For instance, here’s a page from THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, coming out in early summer. Pink, red, and purple ink on one page--I change ink colors when I get stuck, so this must have been a bad day.

Here’s a good day--pages and pages and pages of orange.

Uh-oh, heart doodles! This means I was stuck in the second degree.

Third-degree stuck: star doodles! Something in the book didn't make sense to me logically, so I drew nice neat five-point stars and hoped my brain would follow.

And this? Wow. A psychologist would have a field day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A braggy-pantsy moment...

...if you'll indulge me. I have been informed by my lovely Penguin editor that EMILY GOLDBERG has been named a NYPL 2007 Books for the Teen Age Selection.

I do love those teen agers (and the librarians who voted, as well)!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

California Dreamin'

This is where I was last night. I could have been slipping on ice after a snow/sleet storm. But I wasn't. I was on Mission Beach, with the dh. And we got to see this.
Sometimes other people are handy, you know. My dh was interested in seeing a sunset in the West. Me? I just like the beach and didn't know what he was yadda-yadda-ing about.
Now I know.
I'm so lucky he wanted to see this sunset, because now I got to see it (and I have the pictures to prove it, thanks to him, too :-)
These are the kind of moments that make it into our books, when we're authors, too, not just our memories. You know the moments I mean: the ones that sneak up on you, the ones you weren't expecting, the ones you'll never forget.
Oh well. On to San Juan Capistrano and then to L.A., San Francisco and back here, to San Diego. Three weeks of fun, work, surprises.
We've already planned to spend another evening at the beach, watching the sun set.
What's your best 'surprise' memory?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Book Release Obsession

Okay, people, Erin Downing here and this is the last time I'll talk about my new book for a while. But since February 20-something was, officially, Prom Crashers' in-store release date, I've decided I need one more post for self-promotion. So here it is:


Whew. I feel better. It's relaxing to write in all CAPS. It feels as comforting as shouting, which, let's all be honest, is pretty fun to do. HOLLER! YELL! My new book is out in stores! Rumor has it that a few of the big book chains have some pretty nifty prom-themed tables and endcaps up in store, so it should be pretty easy to find.

I wrote this book in just a few short months last year, which means I spent countless hours with a big iced coffee and my Mac and grew really close to the characters - I sort of slipped into their world and didn't come back out until the first draft was emailed to my editor. I really enjoyed writing it, mostly because I loved my own prom (if you read the bio at the back of Prom Crashers, you'll find out that I have been to a number of school formals in my was a bit of an addiction for me in high school). But real life could never compare to the proms that Emily and her friends crash in the book. They meet some serious crazies...

I hope you enjoy the book - if you have something to say, please review it somewhere. Authors love to hear what their readers think, so speak your mind.