Thursday, December 30
Wednesday, December 29
I love year-end lists! Best books, best movies, best sandwich of 2010 – I love all of it! I know of course that it’s almost absurdly subjective. “Best” is truly in the eye of the beholder and it’s almost impossible to judge art by anything resembling a universal standard. I know that, but yet I love reading the wrap-ups of what various publications or people thought was the best thing of the past year. (I’m especially interested if you had a great sandwich in 2010. Please share in comments.)
I’m not going to touch "best books" because I know way too many authors and I can’t speak with any sort of authority on best movies because I have little kids at home and they rule the DVD player. I could easily tell you what the best “Handy Manny” episode was of 2010 ("Chico Goes to Preschool," obvs.) but that’s about it. And OK, I don’t listen to music nearly as much as I used to, but I am happy to nominate my favorite album of 2010. It is ….. (*drum roll*) “The Monitor” by Titus Andronicus!
I very rarely buy CDs anymore, but I was given a giftcard to Border’s and decided to not just buy books (shocking!) but some music too. I forget when I first heard Titus Andronicus, but when I saw their disc at Border’s I was like “Oh yeah, those guys!” So I bought it and listened to it pretty much non-stop for the next few months.
Now, if you google this album, you will no doubt read that it is a punk rock concept album about the Civil War. Maybe that sounds awesome to you, maybe it sounds terrible. But I don’t think it really has all that much to do with how great this album is. There are little spoken passages between some of the songs quoting Lincoln and so on, and some of the songs do mention the Civil War, but the songs aren’t history lessons. They’re sometimes fun and sometimes sad and always well-written and they really do rock hard. There are shouted choruses, huge guitar solos, and even some good storytelling. There you go: best album of 2010.
(Note: on the album, this song is twice as long, but this is a pretty good intro to their sound if you’re curious.)
One more fun thing: One of my Twitter friends (she works at my publisher) was tweeting about Titus a while ago and I was like “I love that band!” And she was like “Yay, that’s my brother!” And I was like “Wait: what?” And she explained that her brother is the singer of the band! I was like “Tell him I love his band. And his beard.” So I feel happy about that connection. Also I feel like the possibility exists that I might get a chance to hang out backstage at some time in the future, or possibly be invited to sing with them at a show. Call me, guys: I know all the words.
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 28
Monday, December 27
So what can I do?
Well, I guess I can talk a bit about the upcoming year and how excited I am about all I've got going on. But really, I'm only doing that...so I can stop thinking for a few minutes about the foor-foot drift of snow outside my door!
In 2011, I've got a lot going on. Three of my YA books will have their paperback releases: Crazy Beautiful on January 3 (just eight days away!); The Education of Bet in April; and The Twin's Daughter in August. The next two books in The Sisters 8 series for young readers will also be released simultaneously in hardcover and paperback: Book 7 Rebecca's Rashness in May and Book 8 sometime in the fall. But finally, what I'm perhaps most excited about...
LITTLE WOMEN & ME comes out in hardcover on August 16!
Here's the publisher's description of LITTLE WOMEN & ME:
Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all. Lauren Baratz-Logsted's winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite.
And why, you wonder, am I so excited about this particular book? Because even though it's not coming out for another eight months, it's already receiving lots of early blogger love, appearing on several lists of Most Anticipated Titles of 2011.
I hope all the anticipation proves worth it. I hope people read and enjoy the book. I hope the book does well enough that I can go on having a career as a writer. I hope no one curses the day I was born, or at least not over this. I hope...I hope...I hope...
I HOPE A GENIE APPEARS AND DOES SOMETHING ABOUT THIS FOOR-FOOT DRIFT OF SNOW OUTSIDE MY DOOR!
Oops, what's that you say? All the genies are currently busy? Rats. I suppose that means that I'm going to have to save myself from that foor-foot drift of snow. Ah, well.
Before I go do that, let me just say that I hope that, whatever you celebrate, you got to read great books, saw great movies and TV, and heard great music this year. Please use the comments section to tell me what those were so that if I ever make it back inside from outside, I'll know what to look for.
Be well. Don't forget to write.
Thursday, December 23
Last week, after 2+ years of blogging, I had my web guy take my blog down. Partly because Wordpress has been a NIGHTMARE this year for me (that's a whole other post), but also partly because I started blogging before Facebook became the sensation it is today and before Twitter even existed in a public way. I spend a lot of time on Twitter (probably more than I should, truth be told) and try to update Facebook at least once a week. So the question became, What is the point of my blog?
Much like Sara, I had to stop and think about what I really wanted to accomplish and how much I cared about it. And the truth was, I just didn't feel like it made sense to rehash in a blog post something that I've already tweeted or FB'd about. Sure, a blog gives you unlimited space to share your thoughts. But with unlimited space does not come unlimited time, and so I made the decision to remove blogging from my list of things to do.
But the more I got to thinking about my blog, the more I got to thinking about social media in general. And I realized that, for the most part, it requires a lot more energy than it probably nets in benefits for me.
The benefits of social media (at least to me - your mileage may vary!) is to be able to connect with like-minded people. Whether they're fellow booklovers, people you're friends with in real life but don't get to see very often, or people who share your passion for kittens or underwater basket-weaving, it's nice to be able to make a connection with people at your leisure. No more coordinating schedules or avoiding a phone call because you fear a friend's new baby may be asleep.
But what I've also discovered is that I don't get as much personal connection value out of it anymore. I love being able to cheer someone's good news as it happens (it's usually on Twitter long before they get around to blogging about it or sending a mass email with news). And people make me laugh... a LOT... which can be just the thing I might be needing when I check Twitter at that moment.
That's the upside.
The downside? It can be a HUGE time suck if you let it. I'm one of those people who feels bad if they don't respond to every tweet or FB comment. I'm just wired that way. :-) And yet to respond to all of them would require me to take more time away from my real life (you know, that life you have when you're not attached to your keyboard or your phone?). In many cases, I'm taking time away from my family and my closest friends to respond to people I have never met and probably will never meet.
That realization was a powerful one for me.
What is the purpose of social media for me then? I think the answer is that it's a way to stay active in the book world. I like hearing what's going one, who has good news, and seeing what fabulous new books people are recommending to feed my book habit. But it has to come with balance. Family and friends first, writing second, social media further down the list.
2011 is going to be the year I put my real life first. We'll see how that goes. :-)
What about you? Any plans to change your social media ways in 2011?
Saturday, December 18
I look at some people and they blog at length every single day, and at the moment I'm lucky to blog once or twice a month. I'm not sure why this has happened, though I suspect Twitter has a lot to do with it. I seem to either Tweet or blog but have trouble doing both. And then there's Facebook, that too takes time. If I'm not careful I'll end up spending all my time networking at the expense of writing!!!
So, what to do? I don't know. I've been blogging for over five years, and it would be sad to stop. I have no idea how many people regularly read my blog because my stats don't reflect all those on Google reader etc.
What do you think? If you're a blogger do you blog as much now? Has your blogging suffered as a result of Twitter and Facebook?
Wednesday, December 15
Here…I’m just going to reach inside, grab this guy by its little ears, pull…and, um…well, here’s my pick for favorite album of the year! I guess you could say that, like fashion or style, picking a favorite album is a highly subjective endeavor. I have to admit that my selection isn’t as meaningful to me as it was when I was younger. I used to agonize over my favorite album. Now I just pick. Perhaps this is the way it is with fashion too: one day you’re wrestling over what to wear, pulling out this and that, and then one day you’re old, living in some senior citizen community and you’re pulling out a pair of old brown polyester pants without really caring what anyone thinks. Anyhow. This year my pick for favorite album is: The Nationals, High Violet. They had me with the line – “I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees.”
I assume by now you’re all asking yourselves what the Christmas does my favorite album have to do with fashion and style? Well, that’s a good question and worthy of an answer other than “I must have grabbed the wrong hat.” Hopefully I’ll manage to connect the dots for you and if I don’t there’s worse things in life.
Now, I’ve been told I look good in a suit but I’m not so sure, I think it’s just a line people feed me. I’m really more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. You see, when I wear a suit I always feel like an impostor, the same as if I slipped on a white lab coat and pretended to be a highly intelligent scientist. I might be able to walk around the lab for a while and blend in but sooner or latter I’d have to actually do something. I’ve heard that there are elements that will explode if you don’t mix them properly. I’ve never felt comfortable in a suit. I think that’s the most important aspect of fashion: you have to wear something with a degree of confidence. If you don’t, well, it’s just not going to work. The Nationals’ High Violet is a very confident album played with a straightforward honest attitude. Maybe that’s another reason why it’s so enjoyable.
Here’s another connection The Nationals have with fashion. Unlike many popular bands these guys perform in concert tastefully dressed in suits, ties, and nice shirts. Although I do feel there’s a slightly Monty-Pythonish quality to their fashion tastes. Like me, they don’t seem able to pull off the whole wearing a suit with confidence routine but for a rock band that might be a good thing. Rock stars can sometimes find themselves being perceived as egocentric elitists. A little awkwardness goes a long way in establishing a common bond with their fans. Although I have to admit that lead singer Matt Berninger rivals only myself in his apparent suit-wearing discomfort. He also has a tendency to appear slightly inebriated and I’m not sure if that can be contributed to his attire or the consumption of alcohol but I suspect the ladder.
Music and fashion have always had a long-standing common-law marriage. Music sets a tone; it establishes style. Try to picture a fashion show without music. And need I point out the countless marriages between rock stars and fashion models? I didn’t think so. So in closing, let’s review: fashion requires confidence, style is subjective, The Nationals’ High Violet is the best damn album of the year and always remember if you’re going to pull a rabbit out of a hat make sure you’ve got the right hat.
Anyhow, I guess this has all been a long way for me to say…check out this video, and tell me it doesn’t get stuck in your head! And since everything’s subjective – what’s your favorite album of the year? Bend my ear and tickle my brain.
Love this song.
Tuesday, December 14
Handbag one - The Doormat. I love this bag so much and I'm pretty sure that it really is made out a doormat. But since it pretty much goes with everything and is incredibly robust, it's a keeper!
Handbag two - The Dynasty Collection. How adorable is this? I mean it's fake patent leather and it has a very large fan in the middle of it. Of course it's also totally impractical and considering the size of it you can only fit in a lipstick and some cash, but sometimes you've got to suffer for retro handbag fashion
Handbag three - Fancy Dynasty. Yes, very similar to the fake patent leather but instead it's fake snakeskin in a gorgeous navy. It can also be worn as a clutch at night time and it has a zip so it doesn't matter if you turn it upside down, nothing nasty can fall out (and by nasty I mean all the shopping dockets that I forget to throw out).
Handbag four - The Seventies Never Left People I can't tell you how long it took me to find this little baby but it was so worth the wait. I love it, and of course in the true spirit of retro handbags, it only cost six dollars!
Handbag five - Apple Green Heaven. This gorgeous little creation was actually the one that started my love of old handbags in the first place. Isn't it gorgeous and it even comes with with a little mirror in case of any spinach-in-teeth emergencies!
So that's me and my life of retro handbags. Does anyone else have any little treasures that can't stop buying regardless of what certain misunderstood people in their life might think???????
Thursday, December 9
In my childhood, Christmas Eve meant eating the smelliest mushroom soup made with sauerkraut juice. And it was black. As in the color of crude oil. And it stank. Bad. Real bad.
Then we had the tradition of, from oldest to youngest, getting blessed with the sign of the cross on our forehead. In HONEY. If my grandmother got you real good? Your bangs were plastered to the bridge of your nose for the rest of the night.
Then there was Polish kielbasi. Pirogi. Horseradish and beets.
Your mouth is watering, right?
But that's what the holidays are to me. So here I am . . . years later . . . still serving that every Christmas Eve (with the exception of the soup . . . I mean, COME ON. SAUERKRAUT juice???).
And something about it connects me to my larger family, to my childhood, and makes new memories with my kids, who are half-Mexican, and half-Russian and Slavic. They may love Mexican food and have Mexican last names. But once a year? They eat a bunch of weird stuff they can't spell.
So . . . how are food and holidays tied together for you? Anything weird?
Tuesday, December 7
Monday, December 6
Notice, the use of the word “week” and not just “Thanksgiving Day.” Because Thanksgiving isn’t a day anymore. It lasts ALL week. Especially when you arrive at your in-laws the Monday before Thanksgiving and don’t leave until the Monday after. Let it suffice to say that all we did the ENTIRE week was eat.
So after stuffing our faces for a full seven days, my husband and I became resolved to go on a diet when we got home. Except we never diet like normal people. We don’t buy diet books or subscribe to fancy websites that count your calories. We prefer to make up our own diets.
Like this week. We decided that as soon as soon we got home, we would go on a “Soup Diet.” That’s right. Nothing but soup for five days straight. YUM! (We do love soup!) So off we went to the supermarket to stock up on all our favorite organic soups. And the diet was going quite well until about…well, six hours later, when we’d both consumed an unbelievable amount of soup and were craving...well, just about anything else but soup.
So I said, “You know...come to think about it. Soup might not be enough. I think we should be allowed to eat salad too. After all, salad is perfectly healthy and no diet should ever exclude salad.” My husband readily agreed and our diet quickly transformed from the “Soup Diet” to the “Soup and Salad Diet.” YUM! (We do love soup and salad!)
Well, that went pretty well until we were driving around the next day, feeling pretty hungry and not at ALL in the mood for soup or salad, when we happened upon a sushi place. Our mouths immediately started to water. (We do both love sushi!)
So I said, “You know...come to think about it. Sushi is really healthy too. And as long as you don't have any tempura rolls or anything with cream cheese in it, the ingredients of sushi are pretty much the same as the ingredients of soup. Except...you know...without the broth.”
My husband readily agreed and our diet soon after became known as the “Soup, Salad and Sushi Diet.”
Well, it went on like this for a good couple days. And eventually the title of our "Diet" contained so many foods, we stopped calling it by all the things we could eat and started calling it by all the things we couldn't. And by Thursday afternoon, it had turned into the “No Fried Foods or Dairy Diet.”
And that lasted until around Thursday night when my parents treated us for dinner and my mom just had to order those sinfully delicious Fried Cheese Wontons. And...well...you can probably guess what happened next.
Oh well, better luck next Thanksgiving.
So come on…who else has invented crazy diets (successful or otherwise)?
Friday, December 3
And I'm so excited to share mine this week because I've had to keep it "mum" for months! But now the mumness is over and I can sing out and do my happy dance in public!
As reported in Publisher's Weekly this week, I recently sold four new books to my publisher, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Macmillan Children's)!!!
The first three are part of a new sci-fi/love story trilogy, starting with the first book titled, UNREMEMBERED. (A sixteen year old girl awakes amongst the wreckage of a devastating plane crash with no memories--the only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a science experiment 100 years in the future) And I've also sold another one of my contemporary stand-alone titles (along the vein of The Karma Club and my forthcoming, My Life Undecided). This fourth book is not yet titled.
Also, the Unremembered trilogy was optioned to producer Doug Davison (The Departed, The Lake House, The Ring, How to Train Your Dragon) with screenwriter Whit Anderson attached to adapt it as a film. Doug and Whit are both also attached to the recently-announced reboot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.
If you want the full details (including more info about the Unremembered trilogy), you can read Publisher's Weekly's write up here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/book-news/deals/article/45329-deals-week-of-11-29-10.html
And now, I better go. I have a LOT of books to write! :)
Happy weekend everyone! I'm off to do more happy dancing. :)
Thursday, December 2
Tuesday, November 30
Monday, November 29
Name one YA novel that you loved that managed to transport you somewhere exotic, preferably warm, or at the very least different than the town/state you currently reside in. I'll go first.
I absolutely love HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION by Simone Elkeles, about a 16-year-old girl who travels with her estranged Israeli father to...Israel. Israel! How exotic is that? Warm too. The novel itself is also smart, funny, romantic and entertaining as all get-out. And if you read the book, you get the added benefit of traveling somewhere without having to submit to a full-body scan or a pat-down. I've also read the sequel, HOW TO RUIN MY TEENAGE LIFE, also excellent, and am looking forward to reading the sequel to the sequel, HOW TO RUIN YOUR BOYFRIEND'S REPUTATION.
So how about you? What are some of your take-me-away-from-here - wherever "here" might be for you - favorite YA reads?
Be well. Don't forget to write.
Tuesday, November 23
In high school, I had both my parents as teachers.
Sounds like ready-made trauma, right?
But, you see, when you grow up knowing that a. your parents are teachers and that b. if you take certain classes you'll have them as teachers (because they are the only people who teach that subject) then it really isn't much of a surprise. I mean, by the time I finally got to their classrooms, I'd known it was coming for over a decade.
So, you know, I did have a little time to prepare.
I didn't call them Mom or Dad in class (because, ewww!) and they treated me just like they would any other student (they'd had time to get ready for it too, after all) And that was that.
Now, if you want to talk about my mother telling me I didn't need to take typing because "it wouldn't be that useful," well--that's another post altogether :-)
Wednesday, November 17
The first one is a private embarrassment. Nobody really knew the crushing disappointment and embarrassment I felt at that moment except me. Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? In my freshman year of high school I had a huge crush on this girl. She was the one that would turn my legs to rubber and my mind to mush every time she walked by. One day she sat next to me in a study hall and started talking about an upcoming dance. She kept asking me questions about what I was doing Friday night and I really thought she was hinting that I should ask her to the dance. I was just about to, building up my nerve, thinking about the best way to phrase my query, trying to remain cool. I was excited and tense, debating my options, almost dizzy with anticipation.
I decided to go for it.
But right before I was about to open my mouth, she said, “So, what I wanted to ask you is, you know Dean – do you think he’d want to go to the dance with me?”
The surprise and disappointment was explosive, so much so that I must have momentarily let down my guard because she gave me this long look of dawning understanding before finally saying, “Oh.”
Just “Oh,” not “Oh, I’m sorry you got the wrong idea blah, blah, blah.” It was just “Oh.” The word hung in the air like this huge mirror reflecting all of my insecurities and ineptitudes and the longer I let it hang there the greater my embarrassment grew. Finally I managed to laugh and say something, backpedaling with everything I had and saving some face. I managed to smooth over the situation but inside the embarrassment I felt was like this heavy stone that I was forced to swim with and it took every ounce of strength I possessed not to sink.
And then, of course there was my very embarrassing public experience. I was sitting in my Spanish class, doing what I normally did back then: feebly trying to pay attention and not really doing a good job. It was late autumn and the leaves outside were lush and vibrant; I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them. I just sat there, chewing on the end of my pen, staring off at the rolling hills peppered with orange, yellow and red leaves. It was the height of the season and the colors were spectacular.
The teacher interrupted my daydreams with a request to repeat some phrase in Spanish. I tried my best and thought I nailed it but she just smiled and asked me to repeat it. I did so and this time I did an even better job but she actually laughed at me. Then she asked me to stand up and try it again and when I did, not only did she laugh but the whole class also started to laugh. I couldn’t understand what was so funny and why everyone was being so cruel. I kept repeating that stupid phrase over and over again and each time I did the class would laugh even louder.
Finally the teacher told me to go down to the boys’ room and look in the mirror. When I got down there I could understand why everyone was laughing but it didn’t make me feel any better. The pen I had been chewing on had leaked and my teeth and lips were blue.
So, which of these things would you rather have happen to you? Bonus points if you explain your answer.
Tuesday, November 16
However, this time, the reason I couldn't remember any of them was because about six months ago I made the conscious decision to stop beating myself up about my past mistakes.
There was a time when I could be quite happily walking down the street and I would suddenly be overwhelmed with negative feelings because of something that I had done twenty years ago. It was actually getting to the point of ridiculousness and I would find that a perfectly good mood would suddenly be gone and I'd be anxious and upset all over again.
Then, after it happening one too many times I finally decided that I'd had enough of reliving the past so I decided to forgive myself for the stupid/dumb/embarrassing things that I had done (and while I was at, I even included the stupid/dumb/embarrassing things that I will no doubt do in the future) and I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel for it. Of course some of them still sneak through but I know what they are now and I know what to do them with!
So my challenge to everyone is pause next time you have a flashback to an embarrassing moment and instead of letting it overwhelm and own you, just have a laugh, forgive yourself and let it go the way of all unwanted thoughts (you know, the place in our mind we leave the Brussel Sprout Souffle recipes that our mothers mistakenly think we might be interested in knowing).
Monday, November 15
This week's topic is Most Embarrassing Moments. As I was contemplating what to write about, it struck me how many embarrassing moments - for girls, anyway - center around our bodies, how they are presented, and how others see us. It also interested me to note how some of those perceptions and embarrassments have changed over the years.
For example - my grandma was mortified by underclothing. She couldn't even bring herself to use the word underwear. To her, everything worn under street clothing fit under the category of "unmentionables". If her lingerie was not to be mentioned, it definitely was not to be seen. Girls when she was growing up used to wear bloomers, which were basically loose underwear with elastic casings around the waist and legs. She told me once that the elastic in the waist was prone to snapping, and gravity would have its way. The prospect of one's bloomers around one's ankles was so humiliating, she said, girls would feign fainting to save themselves the embarrassment. The goal was to hit the ground before your bloomers did.
My mom was a little less rigid, but even she used little code words for underclothing rather than just outright talking about it. For example, if your slip was showing (eek!) she couldn't bring herself to tell you in those words - she'd discreetly pull you aside and say, "It's snowing down south..." She must have had a thing with slips, because one of her most horrifying dreams was forgetting to put on her skirt before she left the house and walking down the street in just her slip.
By the time I was in high school, we hardly ever wore slips, let alone were embarrassed by them. Our greatest sources of embarrassment had shifted a bit. We weren't as concerned about what we were wearing as we were about our bodies themselves. We still might pin our bra straps to keep them from showing, but we were more focused on bodily function faux pas. Like "starting" at school and not being able to stand up for fear of what might show on our clothes - or be left on the seat. Or the classic urban legend about getting picked up for a date and having to fart so bad you let one rip when the boy is walking around to the driver's side door (hence outside the car and unable to hear), only to discover you're going on a double date and the other couple is already sitting in the back seat.
Girls don't seem to get hung up about underwear at all any more at all. Bra straps are meant to be seen. Thong underwear peeks up purposefully from the waistband of jeans. Some girls talk and joke about bodily functions just like guys.
So here's my question - what are some of the greatest sources of embarrassment for girls now? And... guys, what - if anything - embarrasses you?
Friday, November 12
It will be coming to all digital download sites on December 14, 2010!
So what is a book soundtrack you might ask? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like! A soundtrack for a book! The album will include 10 songs inspired by my novel, The Karma Club. Each song is inspired by and meant to be listened to while reading a different section of the book. A reading/listening guide will be available on my website soon but in the meantime, please enjoy these fun promos that we've produced to help spread the word and give you a sneak peek (er...listen) to a few of the songs.
As you'll notice from the promos, the soundtrack features brand new exclusive songs by Madisen Hill and Radio Disney star Savannah Outen. Both talented rising teen stars in the world of music.
So that's my good news for the week! I hope you enjoy the promos!
Thursday, November 11
But in most of our romantic comedies and TV shows, our bad boys aren't really all that BAD, are they? I'm MAJORLY dating myself, but who remembers the guy here, Mallory's boyfriend on Family Ties?
Nick, play by Scott Valentine, wore an earring (OOOOH, so bad, right?). He wore a leather jacket. He may even have had a motorcycle. Well, heck, add a switchblade and replace with actor Andy Garcia, and he's a dead ringer for my ex-husband (I kid you not!). But really? Nick wasn't bad. He was MISUNDERSTOOD.
All he needed was the love of a good woman to bring out that heart of gold, right?
Somehow, that's the romantic comedy model, the YA model, it's the stuff of our romantic fantasies. Bad, but not TOO bad, right?
So tell me, who is your favorite pop culture "misunderstood" bad boy? Favorite book bad boy?
Wednesday, November 10
This week's TFC topic is friends and boyfriends, and I have a question for everyone: WHAT is it like to be dating/have a crush on someone in the age of Facebook? Seriously, I can't fathom it. I met my husband in 2002, so we never really had to deal with the "in a relationship" status change or a social networking public breakup.
The other aspect of this is: Uh, stalking. It's an extreme word, but you know what I mean: Watching some other girl write on the guy you like's wall, tracking photos of a party you weren't invited to, just generally seeing angst roll by in the form of public posts all day long... I think I would have gone crazy as a teenager.
I'll admit it: I still look up people I used to have crushes on, just to see their photos and updates and make sure they're happy and--okay, yes--to check out the girls they DID end up with. Anyone else?
Love and Facebook, man. It's complicated.
Sunday, November 7
And so in the end, I decided, instead of waxing poetic and/or inspiring with some clever anecdote about my most influential friendship or the worst boyfriend I ever had (and trust me, I could go on for a while about that one), I decided I would pose a question instead. Primarily because I'm interested in what others have to say about this and also, to be perfectly honest, because I'm feeling just a little bit uninspired about the blogging thing right now.
So here's the question:
When in a relationship, can you or can you not be friends with someone of the opposite sex?
And let's take that a step further...can you or can you not be good friends with someone of the opposite sex? How about besties?
I'm in a committed relationship and have a few good friends who are guys. I wouldn't call them best friends, but I'd definitely call them close friends. And my hubby has assured me that he's fine with it. And likewise, he has a few friends that are female, one of which, is the girl who introduced us. And they've known each other for much longer than I've known either of them so I've always looked at is as, "If something was going to happen between them, it would have already."
But then again, I've been in relationships before where I couldn't stand the fact that my boyfriend had female friends, so perhaps it just depends on the relationship.
My uncle is a relationship therapist and I once posed this very question to him and he said, (quite adamantly, I might add) "No. It shouldn't be done. Once you enter a committed relationship, you must sever ties with all friends of the opposite sex." He did go on to clarify that he meant friends who are not friends of the couple. Friends who are only friends of one of the members of the couple.
This always felt a little extreme to me. I think there are circumstances where you can have perfectly platonic, harmless opposite-sex friends outside of your relationship, but what are those circumstances? Or what are they for you? As I trust everyone is different.
So, in the end, my one question actually turned into several. But would still love to hear what everyone else thinks about this relationship hot topic.
And just for fun (and for those too lazy to comment), here's a poll on the issue:
Thursday, November 4
Wednesday, November 3
Tuesday, November 2
Monday, November 1
In 1972, I had a favorite T-shirt. It was white with the word "VOTE" on it, spelled out in the stars and stripes of the American flag. At age 10, I figured myself to be pretty cool, a regular hippie in my pro stance on the importance of registering political choice.
Flash forward to 28 years later when, my one and only child being less than one year old at the time, I brought her into the voting booth with me to help me pull the lever in the presidential election. I so want my daughter to undertstand the importance of voting that in the years since, whenever possible, I've brought her with me. This has occasionally led to moments of embarrassment, like the year one mayoral candidate had so many signs up in town that my daughter would have been justified in thinking he was the only candidate for the job. Since his was the only candidate's name she knew that year, when I pulled the lever for the other guy, she shouted, "Mom, why didn't you vote for Candidate X???" I doubt there was a person in the polling place who didn't know how I'd voted that year as we pulled back the curtain and exited the booth. So much for the privacy of a person's vote. Oh, well. As I explained to my daughter, I did not vote for Candidate X because he did not embody the ideals I believe in.
My daughter is 10 now, the same age I was when I so proudly sported my VOTE T-shirt, and she's pretty politically savvy. She can't stand the attack ads on TV, nor can I. Attack ads have become so much the norm that when I heard an ad for New York's Chuck Schumer last week, talking simply about all the positive things he's done while in office, I wasn't sure what to do with that information.
If attack ads are the norm, then robocalls are the norm nuisance. Where I live in CT, one candidate for U.S. Senator has been phoning my home with automated calls on a regular basis. This is extremely annoying because this candidate is not a member of my party and even if you hang up the phone during the call, if you pick up the phone again the voice is still droning on until the message has been completed. I picture myself having to call an ambulance or the fire department and not being able to do so until Candidate Y's message is complete. Late last week, a real live person called me on behalf of Candidate Y while I was working. I made the mistake of picking up the phone, thinking it might be one of my husband's customers, only to have this real live representative of Candidate Y drone on so long, he might as well have been a robocall. At last, he finished his spiel and the following exchange transpired.
Him: So, can we count on your support next Tuesday?
Me: No, you cannot count on my support. I wish you Candidate Y people would stop calling because I would never, not if I lived another million years, vote for Candidate Y. Not. In. A. Million. Years.
Him: Oh. Well, this message has been paid for by Candidate Y.
Me: Well, clearly, Candidate Y is not spending her money wisely.
The truth, though, is that tomorrow's election has nothing to do with attack ads or robocalls. It has everything to do with choice. Someday the U.S. may have a viable third-party choice or even more. But while some states this year have third-party candidates that stand a chance, for the most part and for the purposes of this discussion, your choice will come down to one of two candidates. In the words of Bill Clinton, regarding tomorrow's election: "Is is not a referendum. It. Is. A. Choice. A choice between two different sets of ideas."
That's what you've got, America, a choice. Figure out who best represents your idea, and then make your choice and your vote count.
So how about you? Got any voting/political anecdotes to share?
Be well. Don't forget to write.
Thursday, October 28
Among other shows that I used to be a big fan of and now rarely watch: Dancing with the Stars, Life Unexpected, and even... (gasp)... Glee.
What happened? There's nothing wrong with the shows. It's just that life got in the way. We got DVR several years ago so we could DVR things like Idol and not have to rearrange our lives around our TV viewing habits. But I think that made us kind of lazy about our favorite shows. If we can watch an episode anytime, what's the incentive to watch it right now?
And so weeks go by (I still haven't watched the Britney episode of Glee yet) and you know what? I'm finding I don't actually miss any of them. They're still DVRing so I could watch them if I wanted to. And maybe I will. Someday. But you know what I've been finding time to do instead?
For someone who is forever wanting to read more, I'm pretty excited about this revelation! Reading is a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, it's my job to read books because I'm an author and I need to keep current with what's out there. Not to mention the fact that everyone deserves to enjoy their favorite hobby, right? On the other hand, there's always that guilt factor of "If I have time to be reading, I have time to be writing."
But without the TV intrusion, I've been able to read some great books lately without the usual guilt. Some of the goodies include: CRUNCH by Leslie Connor, MISTWOOD by Leah Cypess, THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES by Jody Feldman, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB by Elizabeth Eulberg, and THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger. And those are just off the top of my head. I wouldn't have been able to read them if I'd been keeping up with my former favorite shows because, the truth is, there just isn't enough time to do everything.
So reading it is. :-)
What about you? Would you rather be reading or watching TV?
Wednesday, October 27
A terrible secret. A terrible fate.
When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.
Hello Denise, it's great to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how
you made your first sale including the title and publisher?
Denise: My first published novel is called Losing Faith and it was just released from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster in September. I've been writing for about seven years, and have several other novels in various stages of revision. I met my editor at a writers conference shortly after finishing Losing Faith and she was interested! After getting an agent, we sent my book on submission to the editor from the conference and she loved it. The rest is history!
Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
Denise: I write at least six days per week, usually for about an hour to an hour and a half per day. I'd love to write more, but at this point life doesn't allow. I homeschool my son in the mornings, then hit the gym. When we get
home, it's time for a quiet time for my son and a writing time for his mom.
Please tell us about your novel, Losing Faith, and what we can expect from your characters.
Denise: Losing Faith is the story of sixteen year old Brie, the black sheep of her religious family until her older sister Faith dies. Through the bizarre and devastating grieving process, Brie discovers that certain facts about Faith's final night just don't line up.
Sounds great! What's up next for you, Denise? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Denise: I'm working on another YA novel called Appetite For Beauty. It's about a cheeky and forthright girl who discovers a dangerous, self-destructive side in her sister, and has to decide between helping her sister and a powerful and unfamiliar desire to become appealing to a mysterious boy.
Thank you for sharing with us, Denise! Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Denise: Write every day. It helps stimulate the creative juices and for me, I often start dreaming about my characters and stories when they're a regular part of my day.
Denise Jaden lives just outside Vancouver, Canada. When she’s not writing, she can often be found homeschooling her son or dancing with her Polynesian dance troupe. Losing Faith is her first novel. Find out more at www.denisejaden.com.
Tuesday, October 26
Now, while I fully admit I can't imagine life without TV (I mean, can you imagine never ever seeing Arrested Development? Because I can't!), I also have to confess I haven't been watching much lately.
In part it's because I've been sick (which is annoying and boring) and in part because I've got a lot of deadlines, and--at the end of the day, no matter how much I love TV, work has to come first.
But! A few weeks ago, one of my blog readers, Haley, mentioned a show called Raising Hope. I checked out the first episode--and then watched all the other ones. I'm totally hooked on it, and I think it is my fave of all the new tv shows this season. (Granted, I've only seen two of them, but still!)
How about you? Do you watch TV? If you do, what shows do you consider can't miss? And are there any new shows you know you *have* to watch?
Thursday, October 21
Here’s an example of what I mean. I was once asked to write a guest blog about my memories of Christmas and because it’s my nature I gave it a slightly different spin. I claimed that my family celebrated the holiday in a very dysfunctional manner and then went on to describe a very traditional and conventional Christmas experience. It’s just that I gave it a sinister air and made everything seem dark and disturbing. For example, I likened my dad and me hunting for a Christmas tree to the actions of a father and son serial killer team. I also described how we would later prop up our Christmas tree (the trophy of our hunt) in the corner of the room and then sit around and watch it die a slow death.
As far as I can tell 99.9% of the people who read that blog realized right away that it was a joke and that its underlining theme was that my memories of Christmas were actually fond ones and the same as the vast majority of others that celebrate the holiday. But of course there was that 0.1% that read it and found it outrageously offensive. I think the email exchange went something like this:
Gregory, What do you mean our family was dysfunctional! I’m VERY offended and deeply hurt!
Mom, Please reread that blog! It was a joke! Really! I didn’t intend to offend or hurt you! I love my memories of Christmas!
So here’s a little free advice. If you write a blog, beware of family and friends. What they see might not be what you intend.
Since the topic this week is Blogs AND Websites, I’d like to comment on a type of website that I predict will only grow in popularity. It’s the web-based comedy show. They’re normally about three to five minutes long and some of them are really very entertaining. They’re perfect for quick little diversions during your workdays. I also like that they can be done on a small budget which means a couple people with a good idea can compete with the big guys. So for all you creative types out there, here’s another opportunity knocking.
This is one of my present favorites. It’s a show called Decision/Decision.
What do you think? Fun, huh? Why not make one? I bet you could come up with a two-minute show using only a deck of cards and a couple voiceovers. There’s a big world out there…catch it by the tail and take it for a ride.
Also let me know if you’ve ever had something you wrote in a blog taken the wrong way? I’d love to hear about it.
Tuesday, October 19
Sorry that I'm a day late to post. It's been a bit of a crazy week - not only is my mother over for a holiday but my daughter has gone away to camp for the first time and let me tell you that trying to pack for a nine and a half year old girl isn't a barrel of laughs!!!!!
Anyway, this week it's all about blogs and websites so I thought I would give a shout out to the Crossroads Halloween tour, which has been organized by the fabulous Judith Graves. It's a scavenger hunt that involves 16 authors over 16 days and there are lots of prizes and fun interviews to be had!!!!!
Thursday, October 14
Now, leggings have always had passionate defenders and detractors, so I probably don't have to tell you that jeggings inspire even greater heights/depths of appreciation and disdain. Personally, though I shunned leggings for a good long time, shaving over 60 pounds off the old bod has brought them back into my life, for better or for worse. Because, damn, they are comfortable, and a writer needs to be comfortable. And though I'm sure you can guess they don't exactly look like the picture on the left on my body, the cord leggings look a lot better than I thought they would. With a long-ish T and boots, I can do my work and my errands in total comfort aaand then pretty much transition straight into bed. Without the boots. Usually.
What about you? Have you already taken the jeggings plunge? If not, will you? Or did you swear to yourself upon first seeing them in the store: "As God is my witness: never"?
I'm taking off for a long weekend getaway, but I will eagerly check back on Monday to see if there's consensus. Now I have to go pack my jeggings.
Tuesday, October 12
Thursday, October 7
Plotting versus Pantsing is discussed quite a bit when it comes to writing. Do you plot out your books or do you write by the seat of your pants? Until recently I've always been more of a pantser who plots only when she needs to (hmmm, maybe all the plotting in my current WIP is what led to this dang writer's block...). It is possible that I do this because the rest of my life is so incredibly plotted out and scheduled that I need one place to cut loose (and again, hmmm, maybe this is why I'm not enjoying writing lately).