Monday, January 26, 2009

Long time, no post

It seems like I'm always making excuses on this blog!

The truth is, I'm one of those multi-taskers who always has a bunch of irons in the fire at a time. I complain and complain about being overcommitted, and then, the minute things ease up a bit, I take on something new.

It happens. Every time.

Just this past week, while I was up in Vermont at my GRADUATE (woo hoo) residency from my amazing MFA program, I was thinking to myself, "gee, without school, things are going to slow down a little bit." Then I got a phone call from an editor friend of mine who is looking to start up a new tie-in program at her publishing house. She was wondering if I might want to sign on for one or two titles.


What do you think?

The fact of the matter is that I work much, much better under pressure, and actually tend to feel anxious when things are too slow-going. When I came home from my ten-day, super-intensive residency, I told my current editor that I'd be taking the weekend off.

By Saturday afternoon, I was going stir-crazy, and resigned myself to my usual post, butt-in-chair, back at the computer.

Maybe it's a disease, this inability to sit still. But it also means that as long as I can maintain my (somewhat questionable) sanity, I get the chance to juggle lots of different projects at a time!

In fact, my newest baby, The Bradford Novels series, launches tomorrow, and we'll be hosting a month-long party on our dedicated blog:

The first title in the series is called GoldenGirl, and it's told in blog format from the POV of Bradford Prep's It Girl, Spencer Kelly. You can read all of Spencer and co.'s secrets in her blogs, and then log on to to visit their student pages, friend them on Facebook, sign up for their Twitter feeds, and read lots of exclusive web content from online-only blogs. This is, as far as I know, the very first fully-immersive book-online series, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. It's published through, yes, Simon Pulse, and as a former Pulse editor and Ro Com author, it's really comforting to be working with some of my oldest and dearest colleagues.

I hope you'll stop by our blog bash between now and 2/20--you can read lots of interviews with different authors and bloggers, and we'll have quizzes, prizes, and lots of other fun stuff, too!

In the meantime, though--I think there's something I'm supposed to be doing!




Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration Celebration

What a history-making week! Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States. I went, I shivered and I witnessed. My hubby and I trekked down to DC to be a part of it. We flew to JFK and then drove a rental car the four-hours plus to Washington.

It was amazing, awe-inspiring and every other superlative you no doubt heard and read about. But one thing I was struck by was the vibin’ energy of the crowd. Sure it was freezing cold, and nope, we didn’t have a spot anywhere near the Capitol (“A shout out to the makers of jumbotron!”). But like Obama said once, this isn’t entirely about him, it’s about all of us. And nowhere did this statement ring more true than out there among the masses. [Note: Sorry about the poor quality pics--having computer issues.]

Despite the large crowds, folks were calm, cooperative and patient. Things were so slow-moving at some points that a full stride felt like the best thing since sliced bread. After almost an hour of baby paces, walking normally was like, “Aaaah.” During the slow procession out of the mall after the free concert, people broke out in song, smiled at each other, struck up conversations with strangers, and did I mention they broke out in song?? Some songs overheard: “America the Beautiful,” “Dancing in the Streets,” “My Country Tis of Thee.” (The crowd danced to "Shout" during Garth Brooks' rockin' performance at the concert. Yes--Garth turned it OUT!)
But one thing I realized about us a culture—we’re a bunch of jokers. Talk about immature! During the HBO-televised “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial, people busted out laughing during what was supposed to be serious ceremonial moments. This is partly because of random misfires in the show’s production. Some examples: As an actor made mention of Lincoln, a tight shot of the president’s stony face beamed across the jumbotron. It just looked mad ominous and shadowy. I reacted as quickly as everyone else with a chuckle. Then when Tom Hanks took to the stage, the band accompanied his message in a weird crescendo of drama-filled notes. Everyone burst out laughing again, turning to look at each other with WTF? expressions. And that’s not even getting into the funny commentary different people shouted at random times.

That’s something you don’t find everywhere. I think of the times my jokes fell flat when I lived in London. The jokes usually bombed if they were too heavily American in their pop culture references.

Humor is about more than tickling funny bones. Punch lines—when delivered well—are easy to find. But to unanimously pick up on something not meant to be comedic is something cultural. It’s like sharing a sense of humor with your bff.

Humor has always been an important part of my family life. It’s the way we ease tension, build bonds and entertain each other. So it’s so nice to know that on that cold day on the mall as we joined in raised hope to celebrate President Obama and a new era, I shared a few laughs with my extended family (almost 2 million strong) on the mall.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Stuff We Collect

You can learn a lot about a person by what he or she chooses to collect. People collect rare stamps and coins, baseball cards, art, Barbies, shoes, handbags, lip balm, stickers, books, snowboards, sports cars, postcards--you name it. Some people collect items that follow a certain theme, like Hello Kitty, cows, chickens, dinosaurs, etc.

I collect three things. Bratz dolls is my smallest collection at two. But I think they're really cute and I'm the only female in my family (not counting pets) so it's my job to represent the daughter who never was. I also collect voodoo dolls. I'm not sure what this says about me, because I don't do spells or anything, but I just think they're cool. Whenever someone I know goes to New Orleans, I ask them to get me one. I get to go there next summer so I'll be sure and get myself one while there.

My favorite collection is my glassware. As you can see from these photos, I have a special place to keep them and I have many kinds. Some glasses were bought at retail stores (above, right and the "No Evil" monkeys to the left), some at art festivals (below right), and I received the wine glass with Roxy (from The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren) hand-painted on it from my friend Anna (below left).

What do you collect?

Monday, January 12, 2009


I've blogged here previously about my penchant for reading weird, offbeat news stories in my downtime. Sometimes, though, I think those stories are a great source of inspiration.

For instance, have you seen this week's news story about the couple who got married at Taco Bell? There's not much detail in the piece. We know they met online, but not how their first in-person meeting went. We don't know why they chose Taco Bell, why their friend was the one who married them, or why they picked that particular Taco Bell (though I found it hysterical that it's in Normal, Illinois!) But without all those details in place, I'm intrigued by the what-ifs of their tale, because it's the what-ifs of life that provide the seeds of a great story. (Yes, I'm working on it!!)

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Would you consider getting married in a Taco Bell? What about another unusual locale? Or do you fall hard for the idea of a traditional wedding? (Or does it depend on the person you're marrying?)

I'd love to know!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

All A-Twitter... Sort of...

I have to give a shout out to Simon Pulse for the fabulous work they've done on their website! Do you want to know more about your favorite Simon Pulse author? You can find out right on the website.

For example, if you want to know about me, you can go here.

If you want to know about any other of your favorite authors, just type in their name and go find out. Try it with some of the bloggers here, just know...test it out.

I will confess, I wasn't sure what was going to happen when my editor contacted me about this page, but I was willing to play. So I answered the questions they asked, and...this part was hard...joined Facebook and Friendfeed. I couldn't quite bring myself to Twitter, yet. But I'm working up my courage. Facebook scares me (I'm on MySpace, which I still barely understand), but after my Christmas holiday odyssey (8 days, 5 destinations, a gazillion relatives, 72 hours of driving, plus one flat tire), I succumbed to my sister's insistence and learned Facebook. My family loves it, and I was glad I joined because I got to see everyone's trip home pictures pretty quickly (one of my cousin's daughters is a fabulous photographer -- she was snapping away on Christmas day as we participated in a family tournament of Wiifit, pool, poker, Whip It and Bunco.

This is a quick pic April took of one set of Bunco dice (she's only in high school!).

So -- I guess I have Simon Pulse and my youngest sister to thank for dragging me further into the instant age.

I may even be ready for Twitter soon...maybe.

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday (wouldn't have missed mine...well, except maybe for the flat tire part of it).


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It’s that time of year again...

American Idol time!

Oh, you’re not a fan? That’s okay. I’m fan enough for both of us. I have been looking forward to the season premiere on January 13 since...oh...Halloween. Each night when it starts, my son and I have a dance that we do to the opening credits music. Do YOU have a dance for your favorite show? Of course you don’t. You can’t possibly love your show as much as I love American Idol--plus, dancing in front of the television is something you would be mortified to do as a teenager. But when you hit out.

In honor of this fabulous show, I’m going to recap the highs and lows--or at least MY highs and lows--of every season.

Season 1

Okay, I’ll admit it--I didn’t watch season 1. Not a single episode! I had a brand-new baby. The baby ate every three hours, all day, all night. If a show didn’t come on while it was time for me to sit down and feed the baby, I didn’t watch it. I did, however, watch a LOT of infomercials during the 1 a.m. feeding, and I was delighted to discover that COPS comes on at 4 a.m. I am not sure what this did to the baby. If he suddenly develops the urge to chase criminals or order Kinoki Foot Pads, I will know why.

But you know what? If I’d REALLY wanted to watch American Idol that first season, I probably could have urged the baby to eat when it came on. Sad to say, spending a couple of years as a music major made me a bit of a snob. I can’t sing, but I do have a pretty good ear, and a healthy disdain for other people who can’t sing AND don’t have a good ear and therefore don’t realize they can’t sing. I figured even the finals would be full of these people.

Boy was I wrong. I was driving in the car one day, weeks after the show was over, when I first heard “A Moment Like This,” Kelly Clarkson’s winning song. The girl has pipes. That day I vowed never to miss another episode of American Idol. I don’t think I have. To find out how big a Kelly Clarkson fan I am, all you have to do is read The Boys Next Door. And I don’t care what you say--My December is an excellent album!

Season 2

I actually called my husband work to say, “On American Idol there is an enormous man wearing a T-shirt with our telephone area code on it who just made it to Hollywood and is hollering, ‘205, Birmingham, Alabama, representing!’” My husband did not believe me. And I never quite believed that Ruben Studdard could be THAT good a singer. Every episode he was a joy to listen to. And I don’t care what you say--Soulful is an excellent album!

So it may surprise you that I didn’t even vote for my hometown man! That’s right, I was one of those women with a little *ahem* Clay Aiken problem. Lucky for me, I really thought I needed to get over it, so I wrote an American Idol knockoff romantic comedy novel. It didn’t sell, but it did get me writing again, and Major Crush sold the next year. And I don’t care what you say--Measure of a Man is an excellent album!

Season 3

Let’s skip season 3. I do love Fantasia’s funky song “Hood Boy,” but I was for La Toya London, who came in 4th. My son was for Jennifer Hudson, who got eliminated really early. Does he have an eye or what?

Season 4

Another Birmingham boy! Bo Bice attended the church next door to my son’s Montessori school. They had signs up all over the place, and everyone in Birmingham was hopeful for another hometown Idol after Ruben. It’s all anybody talked about. You can imagine this just fed the bad dancing that was going on at my house during the opening credits.

But I liked Carrie Underwood too, so I was okay with her winning. The amazing thing about both her and Jennifer Hudson is how paralyzed with fright they seemed on stage back then, and how easy they make it seem when they perform now. Clearly you CAN learn to be a princess!

Season 5

Oooh, oooh, season 5! It was about this time three years ago when I got my hair cut and asked my stylist if she watched American Idol. She said a guy who made the finals just left the salon a few minutes before. He’d been getting his hair cut there forever. He played in bands around town. They begged him to let them dye his prematurely gray hair and he refused. Well! Needless to say I was intrigued. When I watched the audition episodes and heard Taylor Hicks sing, I was floored. And soon the American Idol opening credits dance turned into the Taylor Hicks dance. My son started doing the Taylor Hicks dance all over town, in public, in the grocery store, in Macy’s, whether there was music or not. I am all for enthusiasm but this was a bit embarrassing even for me.

When Taylor hit the final three and came home for his parade

all of Birmingham was beside itself. Especially me. I really empathized with Taylor, who had practiced the craft he loved for so long, with so many doors closed in his face. The publication date of Major Crush was only two months away and I really felt both of us had FINALLY MADE IT. Go Taylor! Go me!

You’re right, now Taylor has lost his recording contract.

What are you implying?

And I don’t care what you say--Taylor Hicks is an excellent album!

What a great season all around. I have bought albums by Chris Daughtry and Elliot Yamin and singles by Katharine McPhee, and I have a lot of admiration for Kellie Pickler, who is NOT faking that accent. You should hear mine.

Season 6

Can we skip season 6 too? I was for Melinda Doolittle, who came in 3rd.

Season 7

David Cook all the way. He was a true musician and his intepretation of some of those songs was nothing short of masterful.

I do not want to hear your pleas about Archuleta. Archuleta is doing okay for himself. Yesterday in the drugstore I saw that he had his own Teen Beat-type magazine with pages and pages of nothing but Archuleta-y goodness. And I don’t care what you say--David Cook is an excellent album!

Season 8

I’m predicting a down year, since last year was an up year, and I am not sure about this additional judge. But hope springs eternal. There is no better television than one of these amateurs really nailing a performance in front of a national audience. Makes me wish I could sing.

At least I can dance.