Sunday, September 30

What's that guy saying?

It's kind of funny that I should be one of the TFCers asked to write about music this month. It's kind of funny because I have no talent in that regard. I can't play an instrument, can only sing on key sporadically, and whenever called upon to take part in rhythmical clapping as part of a large group, eventually I find myself clapping at beats that - obviously - no one else is hearing.

Then, too, there's the problem of me being one of the oldest, if not *the* oldest, TFCer - I could practically be The Crypt-Keeper here! This means that a lot of what I like - Frank Sinatra, Warren Zevon, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull - is likely of little interest to teens. Now I do listen to the radio in the car. The problem with that though is that DJs so rarely tell you who's singing what anymore, so even when I like something I have no clue about who I'm listening to. I'm forever finding myself trying to sing lyrics to other people, hoping they can tell me the arist/title so I can go out and buy the CD. Since my singing is of questionable quality, and since I have a habit of getting the lyrics wrong, this process can take quite some time.

Which brings us to the problem of lyrics.

From the time I was little, I had trouble deciphering lyrics. And it doesn't help that as I've grown older, I've become slightly hard of hearing, meaning my phone conversations make me sound like Manuel, the Portuguese waiter on that old show "Fawlty Towers": "Que?" "Que?" "QUE?" When I was young, and my older brother and I would have Mom play the radio in the car, I'd be singing along in my happy little private world, only to have my brother say, "What did you just sing?" So I'd tell him. So he'd tell me that what I was singing wasn't the same words the guy was singing. So I'd ask him what the guy *was* singing, only to be met with a superiorly mysterious, "Whatever he's singing, it's not what you're singing." What a vicious circle!

There's a song I've really liked the last few years on the radio and I finally even learned the title of it: "Lonely No More," by Rob Thomas. But there's a line in it that confused me for the longest time. I *thought* he was singing "Open up to me - let me do your girlfriends." And all I could think of was, How can you "doing" my girlfriends make me want to go back to you??? Maybe, if you've been "doing" my girlfriends, *that's* the reason you're so lonely? It was a puzzle. Well, I finally learned that Mr. Thomas is *really* saying, "Open up to me, like you do your girlfriends." Ah, the light goes on!

This is all a longwinded way of getting to the question of the day: WHAT LYRICS HAVE YOU REPEATEDLY SCREWED UP IN YOUR HEAD, ONLY TO FIND OUT LATER THAT THE TRUE LYRICS CARRY A FAR DIFFERENT MEANING? (Or anything else you want to tell me about music or writing or life.)

Friday, September 28

Confessions of a Movie Addict

For as long as I can remember, movies have been part of my life. I don’t know if my parents plopped me in front of the TV one too many times, or if it’s just in my DNA, but I have an movie addiction that’s still going strong today.

My levels of addiction went something like this:

Disney movies:

Was it the forbidden romances in Cinderella and The Little Mermaid that lured me in? Or the cute little animals like Bambi and Lady and the Tramp who I wished I could play with in real life? haha. Whatever the reason, I’m a faithful Disney Queen and will watch these classics again and again, happily.

Hottie Flicks:

As a young girl, I sighed over teen heartthrobs and cool movies like The Outsiders, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Karate Kid, and The Breakfast Club. I guess I’ve always had a thing for teen drama, huh?

Action, Romance, and a Touch of Humor:

There is just something about those rebellious heroes, who are the underdog in the beginning and prevail in the end. I’m content when there is lots of action, sudden romance, mixed in with memorable lines that make you smile. I’ll always be a faithful fan of Rocky, Indiana Jones, Lethal Weapon, and Die Hard--movies that keep you on the edge of your seat and rooting for the guys who are imperfect, but with good hearts.

Yeah, that’s the road I traveled to get where I am today. So if there’s a cure, I don’t want one. I love to be entertained and now I try to entertain readers with my own stories.

Are you movie addicted? Confess some of your favorite movies! Your secret is safe with me. :)

Tuesday, September 25

Friend Movies

Hi all! My very first Teen Fiction Café blog and what a great topic!

It’s hard for me to sit down and watch an entire movie. Not because I’m the hyper type, but because there are so often other things I would rather be doing, like surfing the net, writing or checking my email. But I have noticed the kind of movies I will sit still for generally fall into two categories: the romantic comedy and the friend movie.

The romantic comedy is a given. I love humorous romances. I read them, write them and watch them. The friend movie is harder to figure out as I’m rather a solitary sort. I’d rather have two or three best friends than a group of friends. (Which is pretty pathetic when I want to go out for coffee with someone and none of my few friends are available.) So why do I like movies that feature groups of friends? Color me clueless.

“St. Elmo’s Fire” is a friend movie I watched a gazillion time as a young adult. (I mean, hello! Have you seen the teenage Rob Lowe? And Andrew McCarthy as the intense misunderstood writer type? Yum.) It’s not particularly well acted, but it is funny, and the script is stellar. (Okay, there are plot holes you could drive a truck through, but the dialogue is hysterical) We still quote this line from the movie: “There is the brink of insanity and then there is the abyss…”

I love the whole concept of having a group of friends that will stick with you through thick and thin. Another great friend movie is “The Big Chill.” That one is well acted and the music is great. Old, but great. The script is full of gems, but they’re better in context.

My dh and I both love those kinds of movies, though neither of us has ever had that kind of close knit group of friends. Well, maybe a couple of times, but the groups never lasted. Some people moved away, while others found new interests and drifted off. Maybe after our kids are gone, we’ll get into a group like that. But not right now. Friendships take time, effort and energy and all three of those things seem to be in seriously short supply right now.

And yes, I think it’s pretty pathetic that the best friend movies I know about are like twenty years old!

What kind of friend movies do you like? And do you have a close knit group of friends worthy of a movie?

Monday, September 24

Cult Classics

What makes a film a so-called Cult Classic? Like many things, this can be pretty subjective, but in my opinion, cult films successfully "push the envelope."

I love the definition I found on

"Cult Films have limited but very special appeal. Cult films are usually strange, quirky, offbeat, eccentric, oddball, or surreal, with outrageous, weird, unique and cartoony characters or plots, and garish sets. They are often considered controversial because they step outside standard narrative and technical conventions. They can be very stylized, and they are often flawed or unusual in some striking way."

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them:

The first film that comes to my mind is Rocky Horror Picture Show. Have you ever been to a showing, where you dress up like a transvestite, bring a piece of unbuttered toast, and sing along? If not, this is for you, my dear:
I found out something very interesting at Did you know that the re-released version of The Sound of Music also had a sing-along audience, and they dressed up as nuns, Nazis and goatheads? What a trip!
One of my all-time favorite films is Life is Beautiful, and in researching this post, I discovered that some consider it a Cult Classic. Office Space, Big Lebowski (which I only recently got my hands on), and Heathers are a few of my favorites. One I didn't enjoy in the least (but might have to rewatch someday as an adult) is A Clockwork Orange. And sadly, I haven't seen a single one on this Top 10 list:

What is YOUR favorite Cult Film? Here's a list of the Top 50 if you need a little help:

Sunday, September 23

Kicking off movie week--TIFF rocks!

This week's theme is movies, and what better way to kick it off than by giving you the inside dope on the Toronto International Film Festival, which wrapped up just last week?

Okay, well not exactly inside dope. I don't get invited to any of the parties, don't rub elbows with Brad or George or Cate. But I always take in at least one TIFF movie, be it a small foreign film that doesn't have a hope in hell of getting North American distribution, or a gala presentation of a big Hollywood movie that all the stars are going to be present for and the director is going to introduce and talk about. (Sometimes they even do q-and-a sessions when the movie's over!)

Aside from taking in the movies, I and my star-struck family take care to walk around Yorkville, where the action is, at least a couple of times during Festival, on the off chance that we'll see an A-lister shopping or dining. (You end up navigating through hordes of other people out to see people, and all you hear is, "Have you seen anybody?" or "You just missed Dustin Hoffman!" or--in front of the Four Seasons--"Cate's limo's supposed to leave any second!") We also pay regular trips to the Bay-Bloor Indigo bookstore, and sneak my books to the table from the shelf, in the hope that they'll catch the eye of some visiting Hollywood producer! But mostly, it's just a great time to people watch, what with all those aspiring stars (who, unlike the A-listers, make sure they're highly visible) and wealthy investors tromping around. And I did catch Elizabeth Shue shopping last year!

So, the movies. This year we were all so busy, we didn't have time to do any advance planning/ordering of tickets. But we did head over to Yorkville to do our requisite walk late one Saturday afternoon, and afterward, just for the heck of it, we decided to check out the gala rush lines. It was about 5:00, and the line for the 6:00 gala presentation of Elizabeth: The Golden Age was around the block. We figured there was no way all those people were going to get rush seats, so we became the first in line for the 9:00 gala presentation of The Jane Austen Book Club. The advantage of being one of the first few people in line for a gala is that you usually get in for free. People who can't go always come down and give away their tickets. And it's actually really fun to wait in line for so long. You end up chatting about movies/stars with the other people in line, and Pizza Pizza always give out free slices! (This time, we also got some free CDs and tons of coupons.) And we saw Kelly Rowan (Mrs. Cohen on The O.C.!) rush past us on her way in to Elizabeth, which made my teenaged daughter very happy! (We also heard the crazy screaming when Cate and Clive pulled up, but our line was around the corner from the red carpet, so we didn't see them--boo!)

So yeah, we ended up getting free tickets--after waiting in line for only about a half hour! Having already eaten (our free pizza), we walked around for a while, got some coffee, and came back to the theatre (Roy Thomson Hall, actually) just before the show. Very civilized! The film was directed by Robin Swicord, previously a screenwriter, and she was soooo lovely and gracious when she introduced the movie. She made it for the budget price of six million dollars, and she still managed to get Jimmy Smits, Kathy Baker, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Amy Brenneman and Maria Bello on board! All of them were there, and all of them were lovely, too. (Well, Maggie wore this very unfortunate blue prom dress type thing, but she's new to the red carpet. She'll learn!) Amy was best-dressed, in a chic black knee-length bustier dress, and Hugh was most fun: he wore jeans, a white blazer, and bright white sneakers!

The movie itself was wonderful. An excellent adaptation of Karen J. Fowler's novel, about a group that forms to read and discuss all six of Jane Austen's novels, whose own lives mirror those of Austen's characters. The club members' own experiences inform their reactions to the novels, and it's fascinating to see how art and real life intersect! This is a definite must-see for all Austen fans (and chick lit writers). The actors were uniformly wonderful, although Emily Blunt, playing a repressed teacher, may have gone slightly overboard. But you can't not love Emily, and this may have been a script problem. The character is somewhat of a stereotype as written. Emily wasn't at the gala, btw. I'd hoped to see her and her fiance, Michael Buble. (Last year when I saw the gala of For Your Consideration, I caught a glimpse of Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest's wife, in the audience, munching on popcorn!)

So the stars have left and the galas are all over. The magic fairy dust that's sprinkled over our city for ten days every year has lifted. I lurve TIFF. One day I hope to be able to take the week off to see movies, as my friend Maureen McGowan does, but in the meantime, I can only look forward to next year!

Happy movie-going!


Saturday, September 22

Current, but Real?

I will begin my blog today by apologizing... I'm a bit behind. Now, those of you who know me know that I am always behind, but this time I really do have a valid excuse. My computer crashed. I turned it on, and all I got was a blank screen. Gaaaaaaaah! At least it happened AFTER two big deadlines this week. And yes, I back everything up. But I am now at the mercy of the geniuses at the Apple store to get me back on track. Please send your collective positive vibes that they will be able to restore my baby and that all parts and services are within my warranty agreement!

I'm on my DH's computer at the moment, coming to you live from Panera Bread because once he got back in town last night and I could steal his laptop, our Internet service went down!!! He was on hold for over an hour this morning trying to get it taken care of and I ran out of patience. Besides, I like Panera's turkey panini. :)

ANYWAY, the topic for this week, as you may have surmised, is current events. So I ask you, from where do you glean your current event information? I usually hear tidbits on the radio as I am carpooling kids around, then come home and look up the interesting ones on my computer. While I'm on the news sites (typically I hit NYT, CNN and MSNBC online) I scroll through the other top news stories for the day. Sometimes I'll watch Larry King while I'm matching socks or something. That seems to satisfy my need to know. It's plenty of news for me. And yet...

Well-meaning friends and aquaintences seem to feel the need to enlighten me on all sorts of news stories, delivered right to my inbox by way of forwarded stories and warnings. Anyone here glean their current event information from these things? (If so, we need to have a serious talk.)

The thing about those forwarded messages is (most of the time) the are just NOT TRUE. For example, I've received several warnings about antiperspirant causing breast cancer. Sorry, folks. I've been in the trenches. I'm rather vigilant about keeping up on current breast cancer information. Antiperspirant is not a factor. Another email warned women not to open their doors if they hear an infant crying, because some theives were going around with the sounds of babies crying recorded on a tape recorder and when the woman opened the door, BAM. Well, that's a clever idea, but again, not real. The sources quoted in the "news" blurb have never heard of the baby-crying-break-in-method. This week I got the 'Hilary Clinton defended the Black Panther murderers' forward. This one said it was verified by snopes. Cute. If anyone who received this email cared to go to the snopes site, they would find that the Clinton Defender story is listed on the site... and debunked (Hillary Clinton was not a lawyer at the time, but a student, protesting.) Oy, I've got dozens of 'em.

Point is, while these stories, warnings, pictures, anecdotes, etc. might seem interesting, important, plausible, whatever, they generally aren't worth reading, let alone passing along. Please, PLEASE if you feel the compulsion to do so, at least take thirty seconds to verify the information you're spending bandwidth on before you hit send. There are lots of great de-mything sites you can check. Among my favorites are snopes , truthorfiction and hoaxbusters.

What are some of your favorite email hoaxes that have come through your inbox?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Gerb, who, while she loves to read and write fiction, prefers her current event news to dwell in the real world

Wednesday, September 19

World Cup Fever!!

Like, Amanda and Alyson I too struggle with knowing about current events. It's not that I don't care.... it's just that they sort of pass me by. And being in New Zealand makes them seem much further away than when I lived in the UK.

One thing I am paying attention to (and I know Amanda has already mentioned it, but I feel compelled to mention it again) is the Rugby World Cup. If you live in the USA you probably haven't heard much about it (though USA do have a team competing), but living in New Zealand the world cup is on everyone's lips - man, woman and child. Rugby is the national game. Our team, the All Blacks is the most famous in the world. So in honour of our guys in France, some photos to drool over!!!

Here are the All Blacks performing the Haka (Māori traditional dance) immediately prior to an international match.

One of my favourites - Doug Howlett. He has a smile to die for! And he's a great player too.

For Amanda, Richie McCaw the All Blacks captain.

Tell Me 'Bout It

Following in the footsteps of my fellow Teen Fiction Café patron, Amanda Ashby, here’s the thing about me and current events- I’m not really all that up on them. Oh sure I saw a brief clip of Britney lip synching in a black bikini, heard something about OJ getting cuffed, did a little happy dance when Ricky Gervais (genius creator of my fave TV show “The Office”) won an Emmy for the equally brilliant “Extras” (even though I didn’t actually watch the Emmys), but for the most part, well, I’m working. And when I’m working, the only current events are my own.

Like Saturday, when I helped my husband load a refrigerator onto a rented truck, only to sit in traffic forever (welcome to California!), so I could get home, do a quick change, and follow my BFF to four different parties (just another Saturday night for her- totally exhausting for me), making for a bleary eyed Sunday morning when we had to wrangle said fridge out of the truck and into the house.

Oh yeah, and last week I went here---

Donated Saving Zoë to the local library in memory of a dear friend (as I do with all of my books)

And had an overall, amazing time!

But now I hear that Michael Douglas learned how to operate a backhoe and spent time at Costco (a first for him!) while researching his latest movie role- and apparently he is now a big fan of both earth shoveling and big box shopping!

Oh, I can feel the lure of celebrity news pulling me in!

What about you- how do you keep up with current events (or celebrity scandal masquerading as current events!) -?

Saturday, September 15

Welcome to my world

Hooray, this is my very first blog on Teen Fiction Cafe, which is incredibly exciting, but before I start I do feel, in the interest of fairness, that I should be honest about some of my less than savory habits. Okay, so here goes:

The most important thing to remember is that I really AM as shallow as I seem. I really DO watch that much television, drink that much diet coke and eat that many chocolates. It is possible to sit around ALL day and do nothing (in fact I might do a workshop on this one day since it's a much maligned skill). I never get sick of being brilliant, skinny and gorgeous all at the same time. And finally, yes, I have been known to stretch the truth from time to time...

Right, so now that we know each other a bit better, it's confession time. This week's blog topic is meant to be current events and the truth is that I've got nothing. Not a bean. You see in between spending all my time watching the Rugby World Cup and drooling over cute guys, I'm getting ready to move for the second time in five months and there is just no room in my head for anything other than packing boxes, secretly disposing of children's toys and generally wandering around trying to convince my husband that I'm hard at work.

Mind you, this isn't the first time I've lost contact with the outside world. In fact, as a writer I find it happens quite regularly. I get so caught up with the story in my head that I forget to pay attention to anything else that is happening (actually, this includes whether the dinner is burning or not, but that's another blog post). So my question is, does this happen to anyone else or is it just me. Oh, and if you want to make me feel better by lying, then that's perfectly okay!

Wednesday, September 12

How well do you know the ones you love?

Hey Everyone-

Well, the good people over here at Teen Fiction Café have recently added PROMO WEEK to the menu- and it’s just in time as my sixth book, SAVING ZOË, is in stores now!

Out of all the teen novels I’ve written so far, I really think it’s my best one yet, and I’m hoping you’ll agree.

It’s the story of Echo, a fifteen-year old girl, who’s still reeling from the brutal murder of her older sister, Zoë. Her parents are numb, her friends are moving on, and the awkward start to her freshman year of high school proves she’ll never live up to her sister’s memory.

But when Zoë’s boyfriend, Marc shows up with her diary, Echo starts reading, and soon becomes so immersed in her sister’s secret world, their lives begin to blur, forcing Echo to uncover the truth behind Zoë’s life—so she can start to rebuild her own.

Saving Zoë is a story about sisters, the complicated relationship they sometimes share, and the bond that endures long after one of them is gone.

And here’s what people are saying:

Teens Read Too, recently honored it with their 5 Star, Gold Award, you can read the review HERE.

By The Book Reviews called it “One of my favorites of all time!” You can read the full review HERE.

Deyara Morris at Book Divas says, “I loved it. It is the best book I've ever read.”

And from YA Galley Teen Reviews:

“This book really touched my heart. It’s like I was actually witnessing the death of my own sister (if I had one) … This book is very well written.”

“I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was so great how Echo was able to get to know her sister better through reading her diary and even become closer to her memory . . .I loved every moment I spent reading it!”

To read an EXCERPT click HERE

To view the BOOK TRAILER click HERE

To BUY your own copy click HERE or HERE

And if you LEAVE ME A COMMENT by 9/16/07 you just might WIN an autographed copy! (One winner will be chosen at random)

I hope you enjoy reading Saving Zoë as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Happy Reading!


Sunday, September 9

The Second Virginity of Suzy Green!!


We've decided to have a new look to Teen Fiction Cafe. One week each month three of us will talk about our latest releases, or any other exciting news. Watch out for the occasional contest and prizes to be won during these Promo Weeks.

We will all be blogging the other three weeks in the month!

The Second Virginity of Suzy Green was published on the 1st September by Flux.

Suzy Green used to be one of the coolest nonconformist “almost-Goth” party girls in Australia. That was before her older sister Rosie died and her family moved to a new town. Not even her best friend would recognize her now. Gone are the Doc Martens and the attitude. All she wants is to be like Rosie—perfect. The new Suzy Green makes straight As, hangs with the in-crowd at her new school, and dates the hottest guy around. And since all her new friends belong to a virginity club, she joins, too. So what if she’s not technically qualified? Nobody in town knows . . . until Ryan, Suzy’s ex, turns up. As the past and present collide, Suzy struggles to find her own place in a world without her sister.

For a chance to win a copy of THE SECOND VIRGINITY OF SUZY GREEN tell me something funny that happened to you when you started somewhere new.

Read an excerpt on

Buy the book at:, Barnes & Noble bookstores, Borders Books

The Second Virginity of Suzy Green

ISBN-13: 978-0738711393

Saturday, September 8

Promo week!

Yay, I have a new book out! Yay, I have a new book out! Well, sort of. Beyond Cool--the sequel to I Was a Teenage Popsicle (but it can totally be read as a standalone)--has been out since August 7th. However, I waited to be all festive about it (i.e. have my launch/signing party, etc.) till everybody was back from their summer vacations! So for anybody who's in the Toronto area in the next few weeks, here are the dates to remember:

Sunday, September 16th, Launch/signing party, Yonge-Eglinton Indigo bookstore, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 30th, reading and signing, The Word on the Street festival, Queen's Park, Toronto, Young Adult Marquee, 2:30 p.m.

Online, I'm part of the Girls Cyber Circuit now, so look for fabu YA authors like Lauren Barnholdt and e.lockhart--to name only two--blogging about Beyond Cool over the next month!

I'm a tad nervous about that second gig--the one involving the reading. I still freak out before readings. And I'm supposed to read for 20 minutes! Am I the only one who think that sounds like an eternity? And then there's a question-answer session! Tips from practiced speakers--authors or school debaters--are much appreciated!

So I guess, since this is a promo post, I should tell those of you who don't know what Beyond Cool is about, what, erm, it's about. Well, like I Was a Teenage Popsicle, BC is a super cool (says!) mix of teen lit, sci-fi, action-adventure, comedy, and romance, featuring cryonically preserved and recently (well, ten years from now) 'thawed' Venice Beach teen, Floe Ryan.

In I Was a Teenage Popsicle, Floe found herself living with her younger, now older (gulp) sister and singlehandedly (well, almost) saved the cryonics center (where her parents were still, um, chilling) from being shut down by the anti-cryonicists. Beyond Cool opens with Floe back in her beloved Venice Beach with her parents, but now she finds out the human popsicles all have immune system deficiencies...and the one doctor who can solve the problem has gone AWOL! Guess who goes into action mode once again (while trying to master hovercar driving and hang onto her hot new boyfriend)?



Sunday, September 2

Movie Madness!!!!!!

I'd originally planned to post about my TV addiction, but Alyson beat me to the TV post. So, then I thought I'd fess up about me and movies!

Unlike with books, which I rarely re-read, I have this thing about movies. When I find one I love I watch it time and time again. Let's take one of my all time favourites, Love Actually. I saw it 8 times at the movies and then bought the DVD. And that's not the only one. I have watched Notting Hill, Miss Congeniality and Sister Act 1 and 2 more times than I remember. And let's not even go down the Sound of Music track!!!!

And this isn't something new. When I was in my teens, on the quiet (as this isn't something to admit to your friends) I would watch all the old MGM musicals. I was obsessed by Calamity Jane. I knew every line of dialogue, every song lyric! I even planned to have a wedding dress like the one she wore at the end..... yes, I know definitely weird for a teen!!! I still love musicals, theatre or movie. In fact over the weekend I watched High School Musical for the first time. That's definitely a keeper.

What about you and movies?