Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ain't Technology Grand

Since I’m spending the holidays in a Technological Void and haven’t been able to get onto this blog, Micol totally beat me to the post on FIRST KISS (THEN TELL). I’ve got a little memory play in the book called “Improvisation” and I so agree with her about the use of personal angst in my writing career.

Speaking of Technological Voids, can you guess what the hardest-to-find gift was this holiday season? Nope. Not the Wii. It’s a VCR. A plain old, simple VCR. Sure, there are plenty of VCR/DVD combos around, but what if your TV already has a DVD player built in? Why be redundant? It seems we no longer have a choice. The VCR has gone the way of Betamax. (And please do not ask me “What is Betamax?” I don’t think I could handle that right now.)

I had a chuckle a few weeks back when one of the kids on KID NATION (Yes, I watched every single episode. Your point?) thought a phonograph was a modern invention because it had a CD on it. Now, I do not blame the kid for this mistake. Recognizing a phonograph was simply outside of his life experience. Of course, this got me thinking of all the things I grew up with that kids born today probably won’t know. Heck, even things some of you reading this blog right now may not recognize, such as...

-Records. 8-Tracks. Cassettes. And probably CDs.
-A rotary phone. With a cord. And that buzzing sound when you leave it off the hook. (Oh, and the sweet mystery of not knowing who is on the other end of the line until you pick up the receiver.)
-The sound of a typewriter.
-The fine art of passing handwritten notes in class.
-A TV antenna.
-A TV Guide
-A TV ... well, depending on the fallout from the writers strike.
-A Green Machine (It’s a kind of Big Wheel ... but green ... do they still make Big Wheels?).
-Roller skates – not blades.
-The Wonder Twins

I could go on, but I am WAY too young to feel so old.

Hope you all have a Happy 2008. Me? I’m going to stay right here, happily ensconced in 1987.

Peter Cameron had it right that one way to make one's adolescent angst useful later in life is to repurpose it for inclusion in a short story collection AVAILABLE NOW FROM BLOOMSBURY!

Check it out:

First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments.

25 teen authors recount the story of their first kiss. Mine's called "First Last Kiss." And I'm in some truly excellent company INCLUDING Ro Com authors PJ Ruditis and Niki Burnam.

Now, if only I were making royalties off of all of those painful memories....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Up All Night

As a family we have made it through Christmas and I am doing my best to keep up with my son in Guitar Hero. I'm looking forward to a very writerly new year. I have a book coming out around Valentine's Day (it's called Prama) and another one coming out next December - which ironically is set around Valentine's Day.

Back when I was in film school, we had a term called the "latent image blues" which referred to that sense of disappointment you felt when the film was sent to the lab for developing. During this period all you could do was wait and think about everything you wish you had done differently. That's how I feel about Prama right now. I hope it's good, but I've lost all perspective. All I can do is sit back and wait for it to come back from the lab. (or Publisher, rather.) At least it's done. The book coming out next December is fast coming due. The imposing deadline has created mucho anxiety. So, right now, I am suffering from both the latent image blues and the crush of an approaching deadline. Needless to say, I'm a lot of fun to hang with.

In fact a lot of writing is surrounded by negative feelings. Which makes one ask, "why do we do it?" For every writer the reason is different, but for me one came a week ago when talking to a high school girl who lives down the street and read my last book - Animal Attraction. She was reading it at night and got into it. She told me that she kept intending to put it down to finish another day, but didn't. Finally, she committed into staying up way past her bedtime to find out what happened and finished around two in the morning. She had no way of knowing that she perfectly described what I always hoped - that at least one girl would stay up way too late reading it. She made my day and my week. And now, it's is almost two in the morning and I am the one who is still awake. I'm working on the book. (Alright, now I'm procrastinating and writing a blog, but I'll get right back to it. Writing can be disappointing. It can produce way too much anxiety. But, most of all, it's a lot more fun than any of the alternatives.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren Finally Out!

It's official, friends! The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, my first YA novel, is officially official! That's right; you can see my pretty purple book for yourself at your local bookstore. So while you're out and about, returning the Chia Pet your Auntie gave you, keep an eye out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Time Machine

You know, it's a funny thing about being a writer. Since your name is on your books, people you haven't seen in eons know exactly what you've been up to all these years, while you don't know a thing about them. Sometimes, that can be embarrassing, like when you get a note, or an e-mail, from someone you have absolutely no recollection of meeting. But other times it can bring back friends you haven't heard from and really are glad to reconnect with.

That happened to me the other day. I got a message on myspace from someone who had been my friend back in elementary school (how long ago was that? I'm not telling. But let's just say no one had a home computer back then, and you still had to go to the teller at the bank to get cash for the week! Oh and I had a cassette deck to play my music on!) Anyway, she moved away after sixth grade and I hadn't heard from her since. So it was kind of a shock when she wrote me now. But it was fun to hear from her, and get pleasantly nostalgic with someone who remembered being in All-Cherry Hill Choir with me (you didn't really have to sing that well,, Cherry Hill's kind of a small place) and remembered my parakeet. It was also very cool to find out she'd grown up really snart and become a doctor!

After I heard from my old friend, I pulled out some old scrapbooks and looked at the class pictures and birthday party collages I'd put together back then. And you know what? Despite all this talk about kids growing up too fast, or the times being different, we really didn't look all that different from the kids my children know now. (Except for the clothes and hairstyles, which are much better now!) In a way, everything changes over time, but nothing changes, too. (That either sounds cryptic or insane, depending on how you read it.) Which gives me hope that years from now people will still be reading our rocoms, and enjoying the make-believe universes we've created.

As for my friend, her daughter bought one of my "How I Survived Middle School: books and seemed to like it a lot. Which made me happy, since there are plenty of references to my Cherry Hill childhood in those books. So the connection was made in a lot of different ways.

I hope all of you can reconnect with old friends this holiday season.

Best wishes for a great year.

And let's hope '08 brings us all peace. It's time.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I hereby resolve

December has a split personality. It's freezing cold in NYC, and all I want to do is snuggle in bed. Meanwhile, people are dashing off to cocktails parties right and left, being all extra social and stuff. Everything is winding down: my second semester at Vermont (!), my first semester teaching through Media Bistro, the final death rattles of my life as a single woman (yes, it's true, as of this month, I've got myself a permanent roommate. Good thing he's cute 'cause he's a snorer). But of course, we're thinking about the future: the holidays, some vacation if we're lucky, and the new year.

There's a reason the gym's so freaking crowded in January, right?

This past year I actually managed to get my butt back in shape--no easy feat, given my fledgling freelance career. So that's covered. But I should probably either give up giving up processed sugar, or quit whining about it. Anyway, in honor of my very favorite literary romantic comedienne (and yes, I'm aware that this pic is from the movie but THERE YOU HAVE IT), my hopes for '08, such as they are:

-unpack the overflowing suitcases of clothing spilling all over the floor in the "new" apartment; also, pay rent from last two months

-be better about opening important mail like rent bills and such

-stop expecting my father to do my taxes and learn to be a grown-up

-develop a better filing system than the Family Guy folder I've been using for two years now


-stop lying to my mom about the flossing I'm not doing

-spend less time thinking about going to the gym (note that I am *not* suggesting more time at the gym. Just *less* with the thinking)

-commit to changing out of the pajamas at least once a day during the week, even if only to put on a track suit and my fleece-lined clogs (yeah, you don't get a picture of that)

-maintain more emotional distance from stars of "reality" shows like The Hills. Stop wondering *why* MTV would have us believe that Lauren and Brody are actually dating!

-less procrastination, more full-on avoidance

-more sleep

-more quality time with friends and family (but with less resenting of my future sister-in-law for her naturally quick metabolism)

and, of course...more writing--and reading--of romantic comedies!

Happy holidays, all! I'm off to paint my nails by the silver tinsel Chanukkah bush downstairs.


In case you couldn't tell from the title, my newest book, THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY, is about sisters. About two sisters, who, after moving to a new town, grow up and grow apart and fight and confess and get closer. It's a kind of dance that they perform, which is fitting, since they are dancers--aspiring ballerinas...just like my sister and me. I'm fairly obsessed with the topic of sisters--there's just so much drama and complexity and love and competition. Think of all the great sister stories that have been written: Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY; Jennifer Weiner's IN HER SHOES; heck, the SWEET VALLEY series. Our closest friends can be like sisters, certainly, but there's something about the sister bond -- about knowing someone all your life, about seeing yourself in another's face--that's wholly unique.
My older sister, to whom I dedicated the book, was the inspiration for the story. Like Michaela, my sister was the star pupil at our dance school and she was always the rational, tidy, levelheaded one, while I was the messy, hotheaded, dramatic one who was too busy daydreaming to get her pirouettes just right. We balanced each other well, like partners in a dance do. As my sister grew up, though, she began to change -- she stopped dancing ballet and started spending more time with her friends and a few boys (!) than she did with me. She started wearing lipstick, and cut her long, curly hair to her shoulders. We started looking less alike. We stopped whispering in our beds every night. It was difficult, wrenching at times, that feeling of being left behind. It took a long, bumpy time before I realized that I needed to grow up a little bit myself, that maybe the perils of the adult world -- boys and romance and make-up and secrets -- weren't all that perilous. My sister and I are still best friends - while I was writing this post, she interrupted me for an iChat, which made my night -- but we also have our own lives, our own paths and identities. Sure, I'm still nostalgic for those simple, carefree nights when we'd lie on our bedroom floor, painting each other's toe nails and making each other laugh so hard we cried. But we still have those moments, even if they're rarer now.
I'm curious. What are some of YOUR sister stories? Are you close with your sister? Are you two similar, or different? If you've read my book, how does your relationship with your sister compare to Katie and Michaela's?I look forward to hearing from you!
Happy holidays!

I Heart December

I have a lot to be happy about right now.

1. For one, it's snowing like crazy--the picturesque kind of snowstorm you see on Christmas cards. I'm eager to take advantage of living close to 3 ski mountains and get my snowboard wet.

2. I'm finished with my Christmas shopping.

3. My family is healthy. And it looks like my oldest son got through his terrible tripping-on-ice incident without a single scar.

4. My parents and sister are coming to visit soon. I'm so excited to see them!

5. Dec. 21 is the one-year anniversary of the sale of my first novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN.

6. Dec. 26 is the Official Book Launch date for the aforementioned book. (That's 1 week from today!)

7. Dec. 29 is the Official Book Launch Party, hosted by my adorable, generous and supportive husband. A perfect excuse for eating yummy food, hanging out with friends and family, and buying something really fun to wear.

I hope your December is going as well as mine, friends! Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

News Oddities

Maybe it's a writer thing. Maybe it's just that I'm odd. But one of my little joys in life is reading offbeat news items. I always check the "Funny News" section on, and the "Strange News" section of the CBS site, for instance. Where else can you learn about Tweety, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy being compelled to testify at a trial in France? Or check out the guy who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for getting hit by a car?

Some of my faves, though, are about stupid lawbreakers. Like the guy who stole an airplane to impress his girlfriend. Or the couple in Fort Collins, Colorado (where I went to college, at Colorado State), who are threatening to sue the police for killing their pot plants. Poor, poor people. (Snarf.)

What about you? What stories get your attention? What's the most amusing/offbeat/bizarre story you've heard lately?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Slightly Clueless New Kid on the Block

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be amongst such a great group of authors. I haven't read every book in the series, but I've read many, and have enjoyed all of them. Many firsts for me -- my first time blogging here, and I also just completed my first YA novel, Party Games. It doesn't come out until next summer. However, the way time is flying these days June seems dangerously close.
Bear with me here people, because for as long as I can remember I have been pretty clueless when it comes to anything computer, or basically anything high tech. Right about now Jennifer Echols probably wants to kick me out of the group. Thanks for all your patience in getting me started here, Jenn. If it's any consolation, I'm sure my high school computer teacher Mrs. Mullins and my website guy can commiserate with you. I am currently unaware if this blog is going to wind up on my website or the Simon Pulse blogspot. We'll soon find out...
Also, get used to my typos. One would think, after publishing four novels and a novella that everything I write is stain free. However, last night I received an alarming phone call from my brother, Chip, who was thrilled to inform me that I had misspelled my own address on the 75+ Christmas cards that I sent to all my family and friends. And I don't mean the return address label. I mean, we just moved and I wanted everyone I've ever known to have my current address. So I did the Christmas and "we've moved!" card combo. I put the address beneath our holiday greeting and family photo. Being a native San Diegan, I know that my home town for my entire life on earth is not spelled San Deigo. It was an honest mistake, and one that I should've picked up when I proofread it twice on Shutterfly. My brother called me three times today to ask if I knew how to spell how my husband's name, my daughter's name, and to basically torture me with embarrassment. Some things never change with little brothers.
Looking forward to many more blogs and to lots of great reading!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Don't take me seriously

In the October issue of Seventeen (p. 122), Tina Fey writes a hilarious letter to herself at age 17 (she is 37 now). It starts, "Dear Nerd," and ends, "PS: You might want to think about plucking your eyebrows. Just a little bit in the middle. And on the bottom. And the top."

Because Tina and I are the same age, and because great minds think alike, I too wish I could go back to 1987 and hand myself the tweezers already.

In our defense, Brooke Shields and her woolly-caterpillar-above-the-eyes aesthetic were all the rage back then. And in my own defense, one of my all-time favorite books was The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger.

Paula Danziger is the mother of modern teen romantic comedy (or at least the mother of mine). She meant her books to be funny. I doubt she meant them as dire warnings about cosmetology. Nevertheless, that's how I took The Pistachio Prescription. The heroine has a mishap while shaving her legs for the first time, and another while plucking her eyebrows.

Thus I was deathly afraid of taking these plunges myself. I probably didn't pluck my eyebrows at all until I was 25. My friend Catherine convinced me to shave my legs when we were teenagers after she did it first and did not die. But my mother suggested I only shave them up to my knees since my hair was blond and practically invisible anyway.

This worked fine until I got made fun of by the class clown on a field trip. Being made fun of is bad. Being made fun of by a boy is worse. Being made fun of by a really funny boy is downright depressing, and when he notices your unshaved thighs on the way to the field trip while you are stuck on a school bus with him and forty of your classmates for the rest of the day, you can imagine how angry you are at your mother by the time you get home. Mothers do not always know best. Mine also makes her lasagna with cottage cheese instead of ricotta.

I get the sweetest notes from readers telling me they enjoy my books and have read them ten times. This is the best compliment anyone could give me, because it means somebody feels about my work the way I feel about Paula Danziger's. But it also makes me wonder if anyone is taking the fictional episodes in my books as realistic omens. I'm sure not all trombone players are obnoxious like the ones in Major Crush. I have never met one who isn't, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. And please don't be afraid to wakeboard just because Lori has an accident in The Boys Next Door! This scene is based on my brother's water-skiing accident, but for heaven's sake, you're not my brother.