Monday, June 30, 2008

TV You Can Read

Summertime... and the TV is boooooorrring.

Actually, that’s not as true as it used to be since summer brings with it new seasons of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, MY BOYS, and a bunch of other fun shows, but go with me here. I’m trying to make a point.

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we all have to take a break from our favorite shows. As has been mentioned here before, several of us Ro Com writers (and I LOVE that we’re Ro Com writers here as opposed to the silly sounding "Rom Com") have been lucky enough to have written books based on some of our most favorite TV shows. This "cute little cottage industry" as it was once condescendingly described to me has been responsible for some of the longest running book series on the market, like BUFFY, SABRINA, CHARMED, and one of the biggest juggernauts in publishing... FULL HOUSE! (Crazy, I know.)

There’s even an official "International Association of Media Tie-In Writers." I’m not a member, but I guess that our very own Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon are because they’ve been nominated for the group’s annual Scribe award for "Best Young Adult Original (Tie-In Novel)." And I wish them the best of luck!

Unfortunately, the YA sections in most bookstores aren’t as stocked with these books as they used to be, but I know that plenty of libraries still carry them, so if you’ve got nothing else to do this summer, why not watch some TV in your mind?

In the meantime, let’s open this discussion to the floor. What TV shows would you like to read in book form? Or what shows would you like to WRITE for?

Me? I’d love to write some novels for fun dramedies like GREEK and PSYCH. (And it just so happens that I’m available if any editors happen to be reading this blog... and, you know, if the shows themselves are hiring...)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We've got the scoop!

Look for these new Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies this year! ♥


Puppy Love
By Nancy Krulik

Romance can be ruff...

Alana loves her dog-walking job, but it blows her mind to see how pampered these pooches are. Her newest clients actually feed steak to their prized poodle and treat her to massages at a doggie spa! Alana can’t make heads or tails of why anyone would do this--or why she seems to be confiding her frustrations in hunky handyman Connor, and not her own boyfriend, Sammy.

When Sammy starts keeping an awfully tight leash on her, Alana wonders whether Connor might be a better match. But Alana's puppy love comes to a screeching halt when she learns that Connor isn’t who she thought he was. Is Alana barking up the wrong tree with him, too?


The Twelve Dates of Christmas
By Catherine Hapka

Lexi's best friend has this theory that, once a couple has gone out a dozen times, their relationship is pretty much set. If this is true, then how is Lexi going to rekindle her relationship with her ex, Cam, seeing that Cam's twelfth date with a new girl is approaching? Lexi has just one Christmas wish-her boyfriend back!


Sea of Love
By Jamie Ponti

When it comes to love, sometimes it’s sink or swim

Like it’s not bad enough that Darby had to leave her longtime boyfriend and NYC life to move to Florida, where her family’s started running a hotel. Now Darby has to help with the hotel’s annual Valentine’s Day "Cupid’s Ball." Things start looking up when local beach hottie Zach takes Darcy surfing and shows her around. Beach life actually starts to grow on this fish out of water.

Then--surprise! A week before the ball, Darby’s NYC ex decides to pay her a visit. Darby’s knee-deep in guilt--because she realizes that she’s head over heels for Zach!

This Valentine’s Day, is Darby ready to dive into a new relationship with the guy who’s captured her heart?

Shopping list!

Here’s a complete list of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies published so far. They’re all still available in bookstores--if you don’t find them on the shelves, ask the store to order them for you. Happy reading! ♥

How Not to Spend Your Senior Year
By Cameron Dokey

Rule #1: If at all possible, don't pretend to be something you're not. Specifically, don't play dead. Trust me on this one. I did it, so I should know.
Jo O'Connor has spent her whole life moving around. When it comes to new schools, there's not a trick in the book about starting over that Jo doesn't know. But life is about to teach her a new trick: how to disappear entirely.

Rule #2: Always expect the Spanish Inquisition, no matter what anyone else does.

They have to move again. Now. This very night. Jo knows better than to argue. Her dad is the key witness in a major case against a big-time bad guy. But Jo just can't resist one last visit to the school where she's been so happy. All she wants is to say good-bye. That can't cause any problems, can it?

Rule #3: Never assume you can predict the future.

Now Jo's one last visit has landed her smack in the middle of a ghost story. Specifically, her own. By the time it's over, she'll have a whole new set of rules about what's real, what's make-believe, and -- most of all -- what's important.

Royally Jacked
By Niki Burnham

Valerie's life is pretty good. While she's not the most popular girl in school, she does have decent grades, great friends, and a potential boyfriend. All a girl could want.Then her mother announces that (1) she's gay, and (2) she's leaving Valerie's dad for her girlfriend. Not what Valerie envisioned for her future. And just when Valerie is getting over this bombshell, her father tells her he's gotten a new job as protocol chief for the royal family of some obscure European country.

Valerie's world has come unglued. She can either stay in Virginia with her mom and her ├╝ber-organized, veggie-burger-eating girlfriend, or go with her dad, leaving everything she knows for some place she's never heard of. Valerie opts to go, and quickly discovers that it was a mistake -- until she meets the prince, and all bets are off!

Ripped at the Seams
By Nancy Krulik

There's a new fashion designer in town, and "Fashion Don'ts" have never been more in style!

Sami Granger is fresh off the bus from the Midwest when some crazy person in the bus terminal warns her that life in New York City won't be what she always dreamed of. But Sami's determined to make it in an industry that is notoriously hard to break in to. Nothing she ever learned in her small town can prepare her for her first job working for a hot-shot designer: He steals her designs!

Now the only place that will hire Sami is a trashy lingerie store that she's too embarrassed to tell her old-fashioned father about. Will a visit from her father land Sami on the catwalk, or out on the sidewalk?

South Beach Sizzle
By Suzanne Weyn and Diana Gonzalez

Is Enrique trying to win her over -- or just trying to win?

Road trip! Lula Cruz has her last summer before college all mapped out. She's checking out of NYC and checking in to the sizzling hot "SoBe" scene with her best friend, Jeff.

When their day jobs get to be a drag, they spice things up by entering a local band contest. And spicy it is! Turns out that the hottie Lula keeps running into is also her band's toughest competition! Enrique might seem like the perfect guy, but as things heat up Lula has to wonder: Can she trust her biggest rival with her heart?

By Caroline Goode

Dating in high school is like reality TV. It can get pretty surreal.

Between the strict social ladder (geeks' lockers left, jocks' to the right), and silly, pointless rules (no hand-holding, no kissing, no breathing!), high school is the single worst place to find a boyfriend. And Laura Sweeney is no exception. She hasn't had a date since...well, ever.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So Laura is calling in the big guns. She needs guidance. A proven "get the guy" strategy.

Luckily she knows exactly the expert to call. He's a matchmaking mastermind who actually has the bow and arrow to prove it. Let's just call him...Cupid.

Spin Control
By Niki Burnham

Valerie Winslow never thought life in the tiny country of Schwerinborg could be so great.

But then she never thought she would be dating the prince of Schwerinborg either! Georg, a real prince, is also her first real boyfriend.

And then everything falls apart. Georg's decided they need to cool off for a while and her dad's sending her back to Virginia to visit her mom.

Valerie's bummed -- until she decides to go out with her old crush, David Anderson. David may not be a prince, but maybe he'll take her mind off of Georg -- or will he?

She’s Got the Beat
By Nancy Krulik


Miranda was the quiet type...until she moved to Austin. Home of the hippest college rock bands, Austin, Texas, is a scene. And Miranda is dying to break out of her small-town shell. So she decides to do something totally un-Miranda: learn to play the drums.

When crashing the cymbals, the girl's a wild child! Plus there's a perk to her new gig: a cute bass player. Unfortunately Mr. Bass Man isn't exactly looking for love. Can this rocker chick change his tune? Or does finding her own rhythm mean sacrificing true love?

30 Guys in 30 Days
By Micol Ostow

Practice makes not-quite-perfect

Claudia Clarkson just cut the cord from her high school love-you-forever boyfriend. Sure, she misses Drew. But with so many eligibles on her new college campus, why study ancient history?

Problem is, Claudia's lived in la-la-loveland for so long that she's completely forgotten how to meet boys -- and how to flirt.

Then her roommate proposes a solution: Meet one new guy every day for thirty days. Consider it "target practice" for when Mr. Perfect comes along. Claudia's game, but she definetely hasn't got game. In fact, Flirting 101 could be her toughest course to pass...

Animal Attraction
By Jamie Ponti

The Season of (No?) Love

Jane's life is one giant Conspiracy, with the whole world plotting to keep any chance of romance far, far away. Her social history (17 years, 0 boyfriends) is proof positive of that. But this summer, she's determined to crank it up.

Jane's snagged a gig at the local theme park as part of the star attraction -- the Mermaid Show. But then the Conspiracy strikes, and she ends up starstruck in a furry beaver costume all day long. Hard to breathe, let alone flirt....Can Jane figure a way out of the beaver suit and into the arms of her summer love?

A Novel Idea
By Aimee Friedman

Required reading has never been so hot.

Once upon a time there was a Brooklyn hipster named Norah. Unlucky in love, and short on extracurriculars for her college apps, Norah decided to start a book group. She knew the perfect locale -- a local indie bookstore with a crush-worthy cutie manning the soy latte counter.

When the first meeting arrives, Norah gets a page-turning surprise. The attendees may be bookish, but there are also a few hotties! Most noteworthy: sweet, literary James. He's like a modern Jane Austen hero.... Only, how to snag him?

Ever the romantic heroine, Norah devises a secret plan. And if it works, Norah may just find her "Happily Ever After" love story. The End.

Scary Beautiful
By Niki Burnham

Chloe Rand's life is great.

She has a serious boyfriend, she's about to start her junior year of high school, and she has a tight group of girlfriends. But when her boyfriend moves across the country and decides the long-distance-relationship thing just isn't for him, Chloe's devastated. Worse, she soon learns that when you're the prettiest girl in school and totally unattached, everyone starts treating you differently. Girls don't trust you, guys aren't sure what to make of you, and everyone assumes you're either spoiled, dumb, or both.

Chloe realizes that she's been living the last few years in a bubble and decides to do something about it. But when she falls for Billy, a total geek, will it make her situation better...or worse?

Getting to Third Date
By Kelly McClymer

Could a forgotten cutie be Katelyn's newest catch?

Katelyn Spears is a firm believer in the two-date rule. First dates are so awkward; every guy deserves a second chance. But a third? Not unless he's got serious Romeo potential.

Enter Tyler. Tyler thinks Katelyn's rule is too harsh. He dares her to go back through her Little Pink Book and grant a third date to all the two-date duds. Oh, and she should report back to the whole school via her newspaper column.

Standing by her policy (and determined to prove Tyler wrong), Katelyn makes a few phone calls. But will any of her old flames rekindle a romance?

Dancing Queen
By Erin Downing

Who needs Prince Charming if you've got a rock star?

It's official. Olivia is a superfreak. Sure, she may have landed the hottest internship at an ├╝bercool TV music station. And yes, she's chilling with A-listers in London all summer. But when she meets her very first pop star, she gets caught in a revolving glass door and falls smack down on her bum -- all in one quick motion.

Luckily, Rocker Boy thinks Liv's quirks are adorable. He takes her clubbing at the hippest spots! Liv may be clumsy on solid ground, but on the dance floor she sparkles. The summer's just begun and she's already captured the spotlight -- and a celeb's heart, too. Now if only she was sure he's the right guy...

Major Crush
By Jennifer Echols

Marching to the beat of a different drum...

Tired of the beauty-pageant circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles -- drum major of the high school marching band.

Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute...

But as the drum major's heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything -- including the band's success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.

By Niki Burnham

When it comes to love, how many chances do you get?

Girl meets prince. Girl loses prince. Girl gets prince back -- right? Well, that's what Valerie is hoping. She's back in Schwerinborg after spending some time with her mother in the good ol' US of A, and hopes that sparks are still flying between her and Georg. At first it looks like things are going great, until a ski trip to the Alps has Val and Georg's romance hitting some moguls. Could Val's love life be heading for a face-plant?

Love Undercover
by Johanna Edwards

True love needs no disguise.

Kaitlyn Nichols craves a little mystery and mayhem in her life. Having a top-secret agent for a father should do the trick, but unfortunately Dad is no 007, and danger is nowhere on the horizon.

But all that changes when Mr. Nichols brings home Blaine, a seventeen-year-old hottie who’s about to enter the Witness Protection Program. Suddenly Kaitlyn’s in the perilous position of protecting the cutest guy she’s ever met!

When Dad enrolls Blaine in her high school, it’s up to Kait to detect the girls who want him... and the guys who want to kill him. Meanwhile, Kait’s about to discover that there’s one thing she can’t protect--her heart...

Prom Crashers
By Erin Downing

Will you go to the proms with me?

It was love at first sight for Emily and Ethan. But then Em lost his number, and with it, lost all hope of finding a real boyfriend before the end of senior year. All she knows about Ethan is his first name, that he has a super-cute smile, and the fact that he’s going to a prom this month. Which high school? That’s anyone’s guess...

Em enlists the help of her three best friends, who quickly score some formalwear and hail a limo. Together, Emily, Charlie, Max, and Sid vow to find Ethan, to find a cure for senioritis, and most importantly, to find true love--one hilarious prom night at a time.

Gettin' Lucky
By Micol Ostow

Looking for love in Las Vegas...

Cass Parker is a big believer in luck, fate, and all things karmic. So she’s devastated when she walks in on her supposed best friend macking with Jesse, the guy she’s in total "like" with. Talk about bad karma. Vegas is just full of cheaters, she concludes, even the locals.

But Cass refuses to sulk. She finds new friends, and even gets invited to join their weekly poker night--totally casual and not-for-profit, of course. They seem pretty chill, and Cass definitely needs to get out more. So after consulting her horoscope, she gets in the game.

But when Jesse turns up for a final showdown, it turns out that Cass isn’t so good at bluffing--not when it comes to matters of the heart...

The Boys Next Door
by Jennifer Echols

Cute, available, and one cabin over.

Lori lives for summertime at her family's lake house. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends--including the two hotties in the cabin next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.

But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.

But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard...

In the Stars
By Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon

Which do you follow: your head or your heart?

When Sylvie loses the diamond from her late mother’s ring, her best friend Cherise insists it’s a sign that love is about to enter Sylvie’s life. Yeah, right. Sylvie doesn’t believe in signs--she only star gazes through her telescope. But she also knows Cherise won’t drop it, so to humor her Sylvie agrees to date the next boy who asks.Sure enough, a new guy in school appears and Sylvie’s the object of his affection. Maybe Cherise was right after all? But when the sparks don’t fly and Cherise thinks she’s just scared, Sylvie ends up confiding in an old friend. Could finding the perfect guy be as rare as catching a shooting star?

Crush du Jour
By Micol Ostow

When a girl bites off more than she can chew...

Laine barely has enough time for herself, much less for romance. But she's always hungry for more projects--so she decides to start up a cooking class at her local community center. As it turns out, Seth, the guy co-teaching the class with her, is not just cute, but downright delicious!

When Seth offers her a waitress job at his family's restaurant, Hype, Laine can't resist. Just as Seth finally warms up to Laine, Laine finds out that Callie, another waitress at Hype, is cooking up a plan to steal Seth for herself. But tensions really reach their boiling point when Laine's restaurant critic mother writes a scathing review--of Hype! Will Laine have to put love on the back burner again?

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren
By Wendy Toliver

Geeky to gorgeous in sixty seconds...

Roxy’s about to turn sixteen, but life isn’t so sweet. As a band geek, Roxy can barely get the cute guys to notice her, much less go out with her. Then, on her birthday, Roxy is transformed into a siren: seductively beautiful with the power to control all men. She though sirens were an ancient myth, but suddenly Roxy can get any guy she wants with just a few notes on her flute.

There are only two rules: don’t tell anyone about being a siren, and don’t fall in love. When she starts dating Zach, the guy everybody’s crushing on, Roxy realizes she could get used to this siren thing...but how can she keep herself from falling in love?

Love, Hollywood Style
By P. J. Ruditis

True love doesn't always follow a script...

Tracy Vance’s love life is a total flop. Sure, she has a cool job as a tour guide at a real Hollywood movie studio, but when it comes to her personal life, she can barely get her crush, Connor, to notice her.

Then Tracy gets a brilliant idea: Why not win Connor’s heart with some help from the big screen? Taking her cues from her favorite chick flicks, Tracy puts "Operation Ro Com" into action, and it actuallyseems to work!

But Tracy soon realizes that getting the leading man isn’t the same as keeping him. Maybe things never work out like they do in the movies--or do they?

Something Borrowed
By Catherine Hapka

She’s ready to catch the bouquet, not steal the guy!

When Ava gets dumped by her boyfriend, she’s pretty upset. He wasn’t the love of her life of anything, but with her sister’s wedding--a.k.a. the social event of the season--just two weeks away, Ava’s got to save face by finding someone cute and fun to bring as her date.

With the clock ticking and no dates in sight, Ava asks her best friend if she can "borrow" her boyfriend, Jason, for the night. Ava’s never been a big Jason fan, but he’ll look great in a tux and at least she’ll have someone to dance with. But it doesn’t take long for Ava to realize she’s got him all wrong...

What do you do when Mr. Right is wrapped up in a package that belongs to your best friend?

Party Games
By Whitney Lyles

If only life were one big party...

Sara would be looking forward to her sixteenth birthday, but thanks to her mom’s party planning business, she’s way too wrapped up with someone else’s: spoiled socialite Dakota London‘s. Sara would much rather spend her summer hanging out with Ian, an up-and-coming guitar player and her new crush. But Sara is so busy catering to Dakota’s every wacky whim, she’s got no time to spend with him.

And then, the icing on the cake: Dakota wants Ian to be her date for the big bash! Sara can’t believe the favor she’s been asked, especially because she thinks she’s fallen for Ian. Will this birthday end up more bitter than sweet?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Go Out and Play!

Recently, several of my loved ones have been in scary health situations. My uncle (he’s technically my husband’s uncle but if you knew this family you’d adopt them as your own as well) was diagnosed with Mad Cow’s Disease. That’s not the technical name, but it’s the one we’re all most familiar with. Basically, as one of our cousins put it, it’s Alzheimer’s on fast forward. Only one in a million people gets this disease, and very little is known about it, except that it is fatal. So I’m afraid this story doesn’t have a happy ending. But it did have a happy beginning, with a wife, five kids, nine grandkids—all beautiful and amazing, a successful career, a lovely home, world travels, spiritual fulfillment, and the knowledge that his life has made such a big difference in the world.

Then, the same day, my backdoor neighbor called to say she had uterine cancer. It was discovered by the fertility doctor. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over a decade. In the meantime, they’ve fostered numerous little ones and adopted five. The good news is, the cancer hasn’t spread and a hysterectomy will probably be all that’s necessary. I’m not quite sure how someone can be as positive as she can, but she’s a huge inspiration to all around her.

Finally, one of my favorite people in the world, Anna, is in the hospital. She is sixteen. Her health goes up and down, and I’ve known her long enough to go through several bad bouts with her. The good news is, she’s awake from her (induced) coma and her brain is working just fine. In fact, she is already back to her trickster self. Her best friend Mel came into her hospital room and Anna looked at her quizzically and said, “Who are you?” LOL! She’d almost died and she still has her sense of humor—you gotta love that!
I wanted to end on that high note, as well as what I’m learning along the way. Never take your health for granted. If you’re able, go out and play. Enjoy your life for all it’s worth!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moving on!

My son graduated from middle school on Friday. Weird feeling. I was elated of course, because he'd passed another milestone. But I was sad too, because a chapter in my life was closing. When Amanda had graduated from the same school, Ian was still there, so the place was still a part of my life--same teachers, same halls, same lockers. But now they've both moved on.

So I have two high schoolers now. However, they're at different schools. Here in NYC there is no such thing as a neighborhood school. You have to go through an arduous, painful, exhausting, and sometimes humiliating placement process to go to high school. The weird thing is, it usually works out well, and you get placed in a school that fits exactly who you are. Like in Amanda's case, she goes to a performing arts high school that will accommodate her audition and work schedules (when she gets work once in a while). For Ian, his new school is an international school where he can take his music lessons and learn several languages. He may get to travel too. Different kids, different interests, different schools.

But the same mom, with the same (sometimes selfish) agenda. Like right now, I'm wondering just what I can steal from Ian's new high school experience for my next novel. (LOL!)

Congrats to all the grads!



Monday, June 16, 2008

Coming soon...

This is a banner ad created by the lovely and awesome Little Willow for my author website, and teasing my forthcoming series from Simon Pulse, The Bradford Books.
(It's a tentative title. Stay tuned.)
The series is being touted as "mean girl-lit with an online component," and if you check out the splash pages you'll see that we are slowly but surely populating them with new, fun, (and, yes, sometimes mean) content.
As authors, we're artists, of course, but nowadays, we're often guerilla marketers, amateur publicists, and sometimes even booksellers, as well. It's absolutely crucial in today's market to get involved and make sure you're talking up your books where and whenever possible. Hence new, fun, interactive channels like this blog, or events like the Simon Pulse blogfest. I've personally gone web crazy in the past few years, with my own author website:,
a livejournal blog:,
and even Facebook and Myspace profiles.
It's a lot to keep up with.
But the newest trend, it seems, and one which completely fascinates me, is that of the book trailer.
Yes, book trailer. If you haven't seen one, it's this: like a movie trailer, but for books.
To me, the notion of a book trailer is somewhat counter-intuitive: if I'm reading a book, I want my own ideas of the characters and the setting to remain wholly in my own imagination, not dictated by screen images that may interfere with my own perceptions.
And yet, they are increasingly popular. Lisa McMann's compulsive novel, WAKE (one of the very first Simon Pulse hardcover releases!) was teased with a You Tube clip:
Say what you may about sticking a face on a character (and besides, don't tons of book covers do that already, anyway?), that clip is *spooky.* It absolutely makes me curious about the book.
Mission accomplished, right?
I've also read about authors holding "trailer contests," such as the brilliant Kathi Appelt, author of S&S's THE UNDERNEATH, who solicited reader-created trailers for her book. What a great idea! And of course, certain mediums (media?) definitely lend themselves to the book trailer format. Namely: graphic novels. Check out any of the awesomely cinematic trailers on the First Second website:
I love books. And I love movies. That doesn't mean that I need them to become increasingly interchangeable formats to me. But technology is evolving, which impacts the way that readers interact with their favorite authors, and their favorite books. I may prefer my own mind-movie to a book trailer, but I can't promise I'll never create one for a project of my own. And anything that attracts more readers to my books--or, for that matter, *any* books--is fine by me.
What about you? Have you seen any book trailers lately that made you think twice?

Current Addictions

I couldn't help it...last night, I knew I should be doing the dishes. Or the laundry. Or maybe even...hmmm...WRITING. But I'm completely addicted to HGTV's Design Star, and the season three premiere was on last night. I love, love, love this show. A bunch of aspiring interior designers are given projects, a budget, and a deadline. Talk about being creative under pressure! But they come up with some phenomenal work. I can't help but watch! I try to imagine what I'd do if given 30 hours, a laptop, and a writing parameter such as, "Give us a story about green." That's essentially the task facing the competitors on Design Star.

The judges--fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, interior designer Vern Yip, and InStyle Magazine editor Martha McCully--go over the pros and cons of each person's work, and each week one designer is eliminated. The last person standing gets a phenomenal prize: a spread in InStyle Magazine AND their own show on HGTV.

I would die for a show on HGTV. Most people are addicted to MTV or the WB or Spike. Me? I'm all about HGTV. Design Star is totally feeding my television addiction now that my laugh-out-loud shows (Ugly Betty, Boston Legal, and 30 Rock) are on summer hiatus.!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is your summer like mine?

The summer is still young, and here are some things I’ve already done:

• Ran about 40 miles (not all at one time!).

• Swam a LOT.

• Lost three pounds.

• Read Robert Schlesinger’s White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters from FDR to George W. Bush. Was fascinated to find out that John Steinbeck and Alex Haley have contributed to Presidential speeches, and Gore Vidal was considered for an official job in the White House. Yes, I’m excited about the election. How did you know?

• Threw a birthday party for my son, with a cake decorated like a race track. Who knew asphalt could be so delicious?

• Gained three pounds.

• Taught my dad how to use iTunes. He’s so excited. Songs he’s downloaded so far: lots of bluegrass, The Navy Hymn, Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler.

• Pulled several miles of wisteria vine out of the hydrangea bushes.

• Watched hours of monster trucks on TV. Go El Toro Loco! Did I mention I'm usually not the one with the remote control?

• And just yesterday afternoon, I pedaled a paddle boat around a lake in 95-degree heat, with my son steering erratically. I think I lost that three pounds again in the first fifteen minutes. Played chicken with a Great Blue Heron:

She won.

Here are some of the things I have left to do:

• Attend a traditional Laotian wedding in Nashville.

• Spend a week at the beach in Florida.

• Go white-water rafting in the Georgia mountains. My brother is going, which always makes family trips more interesting/dangerous. Luckily he is an emergency room doctor.

• Finish writing The Ex-Games, my Simon Pulse Ro-Com coming out in October 2009. I’m up to the part where Hayden and Nick have a run-in they weren’t expecting...bwa-ha-ha! *rubbing hands gleefully like mad scientist*

How’s your summer going? What will you get done before it’s over?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pets, Vets, and Learning to Live on a Tilt-a-Wheel

Non-writers often ask writers where they get their ideas (I don't mind that question, but other writers often do, so you may want to reconsider asking that question, and instead read this blog on a regular basis). Truth is, we don't 'get' ideas, we are bombarded with little bits and pieces of life that stick in our minds and get relived on the page with various tweaks and twitches to hide true identities and actual culprits. Stories, for the most part, are big questions that begin with 'what if?', continue on with a series of 'and then whats?" and end with 'oh, I see!" It is the little bits and pieces of life that prompt the questions that often end up being explored in stories.

For example, this week, our 19 year old cat provided several bits and pieces of life I'd never bumped into before (I wanted to post a picture, but I don't have any on the computer and our camera got wedged between the couch sections and is currently whining about retracting the lens and otherwise acting like a camera). First, she started out by falling down near her food and water. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, and didn't really get what was going on. Within an hour, she couldn't walk straight, and kept falling to her left side. DH and I abandoned breakfast uneaten and bundled her to the vet (who just happens to be a former student of DH, go figure). I like this vet practice, they really care about the animals, but they were stumped. Shadow is 19, which is old for a cat. But she still thinks she's a kitten and has had very few ills in her long life. No fever, no injuries, only a small heart murmur.

But she could barely stand in the vet's office. So we got sent to another vet, down the road. One with an MRI and an x-ray machine (who knew that pets got faster, better health care than people?!?). After blood tests, x-rays (cool looking -- she has the insides of a kitten, too), and a lot of poking and prodding we got the diagnosis: ummm, ideopathic something or other (DH knows, he Googled it all as soon as we got home). Basically, who knows, but it should clear up in two weeks...unless it doesn't. (Okay, so pets and humans still have some similarities in health care treatment).

We were warned to watch her so she didn't fall down the stairs and/or drown in her water bowl (gah...who knew?!?). We brought her home and settled her in downstairs, holding her whenever she went near the water bowl (much to her irritation, despite the fact that she fell several times trying to drink). DH made her a makeshift litterbox that she would not have to step high to enter, and with a wall to lean against. I jumped for two days at every thump and bump (we live close to a street, and the noises were never her, though).

She ignored our attempts to confine her downstairs and managed the stairs on her own (very slowly). We managed to carry her down most of the time. The vet had warned us to watch if she got lethargic. Hah! She was determined to do whatever it was she wanted to do, despite the dizziness and lack of balance. She figured out how to get her water from the top part of the waterfall bowl, she figured out how to grab some food into her mouth as she tilted left on the downward swoop.

So, what might I do with these little bits and pieces of life that came at me this week? The possibilities are endless. I imagine human beings are susceptible to this ideopathic something-or-other. What happened to a teen poised to become the next supermodel? How would she handle the runway and catwalk if she tilts to the left? What if, every time you tilted left, you entered another universe? What if a vet didn't want to wait weeks for an MRI for his ill daughter and.... (exactly, the possibilities are limitless).

So, we bump into ideas every day. It's why we grab the ones we grab that is the real question.

...oh, and Shadow began jumping onto the couch again today (carefully,and not always successfully) we're hoping to have her kittenish old lady feline self around for a few more years.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Sweet or Sour Sixteen?

I'm so excited that my new book, Party Games, hits shelves tomorrow! This is my first YA novel and I have absolutely loved writing for teens. Since much of Party Games involves a big sweet sixteen bash a lot of people have been asking me what I was up to on my sixteenth birthday. Truth be told, I wouldn't say it was the sweetest sixteen. I was grounded. Honestly, I can't remember what landed me in parental prison. It could've been a number of things. If my sister or brother were ever grounded in their entire lives I never heard about it and they both celebrated raging sweet sixteen bashes. I can still remember my brother beaming over his new truck with ten thousand friends surrounding him and his girlfriend in the passenger seat. And my sister had the full theme party -- she came in red and all her guests had to wear white or black. Me, I was allowed a few visitors -- my grandparents and best friend, Amirah. From cell walls, I was afforded the luxury of my favorite ice cream cake and birthday meal, beans and kielbasa. I vividly remember taking my driver's test that day, and passing with a perfect score. Can't say the same for my sister or brother ;). I guess it wasn't such a sour day when all is said and done. What was everyone else up to on their sweet sixteenth? Was it sweet or sour?