Thursday, January 31

Book Giveaway Today!!!


the winner is: EMMY
Emmy, email me at and give me your info on where to send the book to and tell me which book you want.

Thanks, everyone, for entering. I wish I could give everyone who commented a free book!

One lucky person who comments today will be chosen at random to win any one of my three books (Leaving Paradise, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, or How to Ruin my Teenage Life) to be sent to you for FREE! Yes, all you have to do is comment on my post today. Don't forget to come back and see if you won!

How easy is that?!?

You either love or hate the next character I'm interviewing today. Amy Nelson-Barak from my How to Ruin series. She's very spunky and I'm happy to let people know more about her by answering some of these questions:

What is your favorite word? sushi
What is your least favorite word? boobs
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? My boyfriend, Avi, brings out the best in me...because he accepts me for who I am. Not many people in this world appreciate me.
What turns you off? guys who try to degrade girls
What is your favorite curse word? shit
What sound or noise do you love? my dog barking (even though I pretend it annoys me)
What sound or noise do you hate? my dog sniffing someone's crotch.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? being a princess. What, that's not a job?
What profession would you not like to do? work in a store where you have to fit other girls for bras.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates ? "Amy, there's a closet full of designer clothes just waiting for you inside."

Simone Elkeles
author of
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
How to Ruin my Teenage Life
Leaving Paradise

Wednesday, January 30

And the winner is

Thanks so much to everyone who entered, you guys are just the best! Anyway, my husband has randomly picked a number and the winner is SAMANTHA. If you could send me an email to with your postal deets I'll get in the post for you!!

And to everyone don't forget to keep checking in for the rest of the week because there are still some more interviews and prizes to be had!!!!!

Tuesday, January 29

Yet more giveaways

Okay, so it's day three of Inside The Character's Studio at TFC and we're going to be talking to Holly Evans, recently deceased and main character in YOU HAD ME AT HALO. But before Holly begins I feel it my duty as her author to warn you all that she's a talker...of course I could edit it, but since I've had to live with her in my head for such a long time, I feel it only right that I share it around!!

Anyway, to win a copy of YOU HAD ME AT HALO all you need to do is leave a comment and I'll randomly choose a winner.

1. What is your favorite word? What. No, I’m not being facetious, I just really like saying ‘what’ a lot. Sometimes I wonder if it makes people think I have hearing difficulties, but whatever (hehe – see what I did that. Oh my God, I did it again. I’m too funny!)

2. What is your least favorite word? No. Probably because I seem to be hearing it a lot lately. No, Miss Evan just because you’re dead you can’t go see your father yet. No, Miss Evans, you can’t go and haunt someone just because they were once a cow to you. No, Miss Evans you can’t…

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Freedom to be myself.

4. What turns you off? Liars. Why can’t people just do what it says on the packet?

5. What is your favorite curse word? Bloody - though my stupid author edited it out of the final manuscript.

6. What sound or noise do you love? The theme tune to my favorite soap opera, The Rich and The Restless. Actually, that’s the worst thing about dying – God doesn’t have cable.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? You know that squidging noise your shoes make on the hospital floor? I hate that. Before my dad died, he was really sick and every time I heard that noise it normally meant someone was coming to tell me bad news.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Okay, confession time. Before I died I loved my job at Baker and Colwell. I mean sure the work was hard and the hours were long. Very long (and okay, between you and me I didn’t always understand what I was meant to be doing, but that’s normal right?). But the longer I’m dead, the less I can see the point of it all so perhaps I’ll start looking around for something else. I do like watching television, so perhaps something in that?

9. What profession would you not like to do? Computer technician. Vince, the guy whose body I managed to get stuck in, is one and let me tell you that they don’t get treated very well by anyone. Not that Vince cares, since he seems to stick to himself a lot, but it’s starting to bug me. I mean he’s a nice guy – a bit geeky and don’t even get me started on his bad fashion sense (who wears Doc Martins anymore?) but overall, a nice guy. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like he’s the bottom of the food chain.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates ? Okay, people listen up good because I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. There are no pearly gates in heaven, instead there is a horrible reception area that looks like something from an airport and as for God, yeah right, you’ve got as much chance of seeing the big guy as you do of going straight to Level Three. In other words, it isn’t going to happen. And don’t even get me started on how unorganised the whole place is. I mean they sent me back to earth in a guy’s body. While the guy was still in. Unbelievable. However, I’ve just re-read the question and realized you wanted me to ‘pretend’ that all is good up above, so I will try my hardest to put aside my trauma and pretend that it’s the celestial paradise of the postcards. And if that was the case, then I’d just like the big guy to tell me that I hadn’t messed up.



Drop me a line at

with your address and the book & chocolate is in the mail.

Be sure to drop by Teen Fiction Cafe all week
for more chances to win!

Welcome to day two of Inside The Character's Studio week at TFC. Today we'll be talking to gypsy ski jumper Leevi Patrin
of The Finnish Line, portrayed here by Stephen Strait.

Reply to this post
and you could be randomly selected to win a copy of THE FINNISH LINE along with a box of Finnish chocolate to enjoy it with.

1. What is your favorite word? Sisu.

What is your least favorite word? Discrimination.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? The quiet stillness of the Lanu Sculpture Park draped in snow.

What turns you off? Lies in any form.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

6. What sound or noise do you love? The whisper of the air around me when I jump.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? The words 'good bye' coming from Mo's lips.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Coaching.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Anything that would make me sit inside all day.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Here are your skis. Go for it.

Linda Gerber

Out now!
Puffin 2006
Watch for!
DEATH BY BIKINI, Puffin 2008
DEATH BY LATTE, Puffin 2008
DEATH BY DENIM, Puffin 2009

Monday, January 28

Winner announced

Today's lucky winner is: Jordi
Jordi, email me at and give me your address and what book you want shipped.

If you didn't win, come back every day this week for chances to win more stuff!

One lucky person who comments today will be chosen at random to win any one of my three books (Leaving Paradise, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, or How to Ruin my Teenage Life) to be sent to you for FREE! Yes, all you have to do is comment on my post today. How easy is that?!? (I'll be doing the same giveaway on Thursday, so don't forget to come back!)

In celebration of my book Leaving Paradise, I'm going to have one of my characters answer some questions. I've chosen CALEB BECKER.

Wentworth Miller as CALEB BECKER
in Leaving Paradise

What is your favorite word? real
What is your least favorite word? lies

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? spending time with the one person who I'm not afriad to be myself around: Maggie Armstrong
What turns you off? cherry flavored lip gloss
What is your favorite curse word? shit (that one word can sum up a lot)
What sound or noise do you love? the wind rustling leaves on a tree
What sound or noise do you hate? laughter (when it's making fun of someone else)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? helping kids like me
What profession would you not like to do? warden for a juvenile detention center
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates ? "You're not as bad as you think you are, Caleb. In fact, you're one of the good ones."

Simone Elkeles
author of:

Leaving Paradise a Book Sense 2007 pick
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation #3 on Top Ten Teens list for YALSA
How to Ruin my Teenage Life a notable AJL book 2008

Monday, January 21

Humane Society pets

I'm talking about pets today! :) My favorite place to find a new pet? My local Humane Society.

The Humane Society of the United States offers these facts:

* Every year 6-8 million pets enter shelters
* 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year
* 3-4 million cats and dogs are adopted each year
* Of dogs entering shelters, only 30% are reclaimed by owners
* Of cats entering shelters, only 2-5% are reclaimed by owners

Those facts are incredibly disheartening! But by supporting your local Humane Society or spreading the word about spaying, neutering and adopting, you're helping to support these animals.

In 2001, I started volunteering for the Effingham County Humane Society. I started out by caring for a few cats a couple of hours a week. By the time summer rolled around, I was volunteering over 40 hours a week and used my home to foster numerous cats and kittens. The feeling of bottle feeding a newborn kitten, raising him/her and then finding a suitable home and seeing someone else love that kitten is an indescribable.

So, maybe if you don't want to commit to a cat or dog for life, but have weeks or a couple of months of time to give, consider fostering. Many Humane Societies cover all of the pet's expenses (food, litter, vet bills, etc) and you provide a home and love.

Humane Societies are taking advantage of the digital age and offer pet pictures via e-mail, personal Websites, places like Petfinder and on MySpace. That's right, Humane Societies are using social networks to find homes for animals.

When you think about a new addition to the family, check out your local Humane Society.

Anyone have a shelter pet? Or, would you consider getting your next pet from a HS?

Sunday, January 20


Since the topic of the week here is pets, there shouldn't be any doubt what *I* will be discussing.

I did have a cat, briefly, when I was a little girl, but it wasn't until I became an adult that I truly became A Cat Person. From 1983-1999, I always had one cat or another: Willie White Paws and Tiger Tom, Spike the aquatic cat, Skook (named for the titled character of a book about a man who gets trapped underground and relies on the imagined Skook to keep alive) and Milo (named for James Crumley's noir-ish detective Milton Milodragovitch).

The last one to die was Skook. He died on a hot morning in July 1999 and later on that same day I heard my daughter's heartbeat for the first time. This has always left me convinced that there's a little bit of Skook's spirit in Jackie. (Please don't cart me away to the loony bin for saying that.) Skook was all white except for a small spot of gray on his forehead, which we referred to as his personality. Jackie was born with an odd beauty mark - not brown or black or even red, but gray. Are you with me on this now? And then there's the fact that both cat and girl (at least when she was a toddler), if I went to the bathroom and forgot to leave the door open, would hurl their little bodies at that closed door: "I just know you are doing something fascinating in there - let me in!"

Once I no longer had living cats, I began inserting fictional cats into many of my books: Punch the cat and Kick the cat in THE THIN PINK LINE/CROSSING THE LINE; Steinway, the black-and-white cat Charlotte finds living in the house she goes to work in in Iceland in HOW NANCY DREW SAVED MY LIFE. My characters always talk to the cats too. Well, of course they do! As for the cats, they always talk back, speaking in various emphases of "Meow!" and yet it's obvious that the heroine is hearing something far more involved than the reader is. Man, those cats are opinionated!

But I've never quite gone as crazy with using cats as I have in the forthcoming series for young readers, THE SISTERS EIGHT, a projected nine-book series I'm writing with my husband and daughter, the first two of which will be out this fall. TSE is about eight little girls, octuplets, whose parents disappear one New Year's Eve when Mom goes out to the kitchen for eggnog, Dad goes to the woodshed for firewood, and neither returns. The Eights must then endeavor to learn what happened to Mom and Dad by discovering their own powers and gifts - a mysterious note tells them to do this - while keeping the wider world from realizing eight little girls are living home alone. The girls' names are Annie, Durinda, Georgia, Jackie, Marcia, Petal, Rebecca and Zinnia. And, oh, would you look at that? There are eight gray-and-white puffball cats in the series too! One for each sister: Anthrax, Dandruff, Greatorex, Jaguar, Minx, Precious, Rambunctious and Zither. And what do you know? As each sister gets her power, the cats get powers too. Man, those are some cats!

Friday, I saw the covers for the first two books, ANNIE'S ADVENTURE'S and DURINDA'S DANGERS, and it may have been the single greatest moment of my writing career. Seeing those amazing covers, realizing the series will in no small part be defined by the illustrator's work both outside and in, knowing how my girl would be bouncing off the walls here when she got home and saw them, and seeing that on each cover, along with showcasing the girl at the center of each story, the illustrator also featured each girl's cat in full power-yielding mode. She got the cats right. Thank you, Universe!

Wow. All this talk about cats. I think maybe it's time I broke down and finally got myself another one. Or two. You know, so they can have companionship and stage kitty coups when I'm gone too long, doing things like knocking over fully stocked dressers and heavy TV sets with their powerful back paws.

So, tell me your experiences with cats or about your favorite pets. Really, even if it's not about a cat, even if it's about - *gasp*! - a dog, I'll listen.

Be well. Don't forget to write.


My mom is not a "pet" person. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a vet. I wanted a farm with horses, a ridiculous number of cats, and plenty of dogs. Because I was a kid and impractical, my list of wanted pets also included monkeys and maybe a tiger. What I got were worms.

Yup. I would dig up worms, name them, and keep them in pots of dirt on the patio. I would BEG for a cat instead. My mother told me, "When you're a grown-up, you can have a hundred pets if you want. But this is my house. No cats."

Well, grow up I did. Four kids . . . hopefully more. A crazy, busy house. And LOTS of pets. I have three dogs: Dreamer (in the picture), Chip (and overweight, utterly disobedient corgi), and Cosmo (Dreamer's brother). We also have a cockatoo (very noisy, says "I love you" when I yell at her to be quiet). A lovebird (constantly loose as the baby--age two--loves the bird). A beta fish named Azure. And . . . a python. Now, Lydia the python is my LEAST favorite pet, but my older son loves her. There has been a tremendous amount of angst on my part over Lydia, because she eats small rats once a month (and I am a Buddhist and don't eat meat and most certainly feel horrible condemning little rats to the execution chamber). However, I try to be tolerant of Lydia and do indeed agree she is beautiful when she suns herself on her rock.

Now my house is as chaotic as they come. And even though I have a beautiful view of the creek out back and a big back yard, my dream is to go more rural in a couple of years and get those horses--or buy one to ride this year as there are a couple of horse farms nearby. And somewhere along the line, I gave up any hope or thought of having a quiet house, an orderly house, a house where I can write in peace, classical music drifting from the stereo. More likely there are birds squawking, dogs barking, violins playing (oldest daughter is a musician), horns blaring (son plays horn), drums beating (younger daughter plays drums), and one very talkative 2-year-old begging me to come play trucks and trains with him. When my mother visits, I am sure she has a cow. But she's used to me by now. And if she ever comments about the chaos, I do tell her, "You always said when I grew up, I could have as many pets as I wanted."

How about you? Does your childhood influence the pets you now have or want to have someday?

Friday, January 18

The Magic of Books

My infatuation with books took a while to begin...I'd always been a lover of movies, the exciting stories, the interesting characters, the underdog heroes, the romances, mysteries, the thrilling suspense, the great epic fantasies, the sci-fi adventures. *sigh* I just didn't have someone in my inner circle that told me I had all these things in books as well.

The stories I read in school were more of chore, and it was tough for me to relate to many of the classics. But finally when I was around 14, my aunt gave me her collection of VC Andrew's books. There I found the tension and suspense, the romance and the characters I wanted to follow along with as they told me their stories.

Now I try to write the kind of books kids will want to read. Books that can sweep a reader away just for a little while, because when I pick up a book that's what I want to do too, be swept away.

Books...I can't say enough about them. They are magical. Words are magical. They can evoke any emotion. We as writers have a sort of power of imagery and storytelling, and I'm just having one of those writer moments that I'm so glad to be part of creating stories.

I may not be a well-known author, but even as I struggle through books to try to make them entertaining and meet deadlines, I'm honored when I reach others through my words and characters. I'm honored that they picked up my book and read it, and took the time to tell me how it made them feel.

I never thought it possible that I could actually write a story, let alone publish one. Not until I became so immersed in the magic of books that I wanted to create my own.

Tuesday, January 15

Where Do You Get Your Books?

I'm assuming that if you're stopping by the Teen Fiction Cafe, you like books. That or you just think we are adorable. :) So ... since we're chatting about books this week, my question is this: Where do you get your books?

Do you borrow from your local library?

Do you buy from a big chain bookstore, like Barnes and Noble, Hastings, or Borders?

Do you hit whatever bookstore is in the mall the day you go searching for that perfect handbag?

Do you prefer to purchase your books online from Amazon, Overstock or the like?

Do you do the Ebay thang?

Are you most likely to shop at cozy, independent bookstores, like Wisebird Bookery or the Tattered Cover?

Do you frequent garage sales, or swipe books from your friends' personal libraries?

I get my books from many places. If the author is a friend of mine, I'll buy it as soon after the release date as possible, usually from Barnes and Noble or If my wallet's on the empty side, I like to bring my used books into the local Hastings and get credit to use towards the purchase of new books. A lot of my books are in manuscript format because I am a freelance cover copy writer and I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner for some really awesome authors. When I'm buying a gift for one of my darling nieces or nephew, I like to hang out at a local independent bookstore, where I can sip on a chai tea and flip through picture books to my heart's desire. And I'm not exactly a stranger at the local library, either! :)

The Power of Books...

This week's topic is books, and as I may have mentioned before, I hate telling people in blogs what books I'm reading and liking. The thing about being a writer is that you have so many writer friends; I'd hate to leave out anybody with a current release and hurt their feelings! (That being said, all the writers on this blog with current releases--listed, I believe, in the previous post--are FABULOUS and their books are MUST READS!)

Anyhoo, lucky for me that I happened upon the most incredible power-of-books story ever on the holiday road trip I just took with my family on the Winter break. On the night of our first day driving home from Florida to Toronto (a three day trek), we were intrigued by billboards proclaiming Tifton, Georgia, population 15,000, the 'Reading Capital of the World'. Yup, you read that right. Not New York or London or Paris...Tifton, Georgia!

We stopped for the night in Tifton, the population of which, we eventually found out, would have had a 26 percent illiteracy rate like the rest of the county it's situated in and maintained its 40% high school dropout rate, were it not for the effort spearheaded by Terri Nalls, the media specialist at Charles Spencer Elementary School, back in 1996. At that time, Nalls, determined to make her kids readers, applied to the Tifton County Foundation for Educational Excellence for a $3,500 grant to bring the Accelerated Reader program to her school. She got the grant, and the program was a huge hit with students and parents alike.

Talk about results. Today, students in this largely agricultural community check out library books by the handful, and civic clubs hold reading contests! School test scores improved by leaps and bounds, and in a couple short years, Tifton students amassed over a million Accelerated Reader points.

The townsfolk celebrated on November 15, 2000, in a jammed high school stadium, where Mayor Paul Johnson led his constituents in reading aloud from Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, setting a Guiness record for the most people reading together in one place, as well as for the most reading together silently. (After reading aloud, the crowd then read their own books silently.)

No more is Tifton a place where companies refuse to locate because they can't find qualified workers. (Teri Nalls has said, "They couldn't read well enough to follow a recipe, to fill out a job application. I wanted these kids to love to read, to be able to go into a business and feel good about themselves.")

Isn't that just a totally awesome story? (Tell me your eyes aren't a little moist...)

Anybody else have an inspirational book story?


Monday, January 14

Rereading Books

This week’s topic is about books, which is great, because I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning and books are one subject I can write about in my sleep. Honestly, I even dream about books—my own and other people’s.

When I was thinking about what to write, I wondered if I should write about how books have impacted my life. For instance, my thoughts on education and child-rearing were formed by the Louisa May Alcott book, The Eight Cousins, much to my children’s delight and my husband’s consternation.

In it, the heroine Rose is too delicate (a word used in that era for physically weak,) to attend school. She was recently orphaned and her kindly, seafaring uncle comes home to care for her. He has all sorts of ideas on how to raise children and since he hasn’t ever had any, he’s free to give reign to his unorthodox philosophies. These included a dream bedroom filled with treasures from all over the world, oatmeal every morning, cold baths and homeschooling, using lots of fun and exciting activities to teach her school lessons. I think the book was my first introduction to unit studies, which I used extensively in my own homeschooling, some fifteen years after I first read the book. Now that’s impact! Of course, I must have read the book a dozen times, until it became a part of who I am.

Which brings me to rereading books. I love rereading books. It’s kind of like visiting old friends. There is something so comfortable in curling up with a book that you have already read and loved. You know exactly what kind of experience you are going to get, though I get something new every time. One of the cool things about homeschooling my kids was the ability to assign them books I had already read and loved as a child and seeing their reaction. Some of my favorite rereads are The Outsiders, To Kill a Mocking Bird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. When I read that book to my young children, I realized just how adult it actually was!

Then I started wondering which new books I’ve read recently will become favorite rereaders and I came across several, Jennifer Bradbury’s, Shift, ( I was lucky enough to get my hands on an arc. It’s available in May)

Wendy Toliver’s The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren,

Lisa Schroeder’s, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

and Alyson Noel’s, Saving Zoe.

Do you reread books? Why or why not?

Friday, January 11

New Year's Revolution

So this week’s topic is music—and it just so happens to be a big week for music here on the home front. Which is definitely a good thing, since I ended 2007 in what can only be described as a musical rut. It was the kind of thing that started slowly, and came with little to no warning. And before I knew it I was listening to the same thirty songs on my most favored iPod playlist—and ignoring everything else.

And then—my BFF and her BF threw a New Year’s bash

(Check out her boots!)

And I spent the entire night dancing to this band--

That, my friends, is a picture of guitar legend Johnny V! And let me just say that he and his band--ROCK THE HOUSE! Or in this case--the backyard! I've seen them before at Humphrey's

(photo taken at Humphrey's- me with Johnny V sax player, the completely amazing- Walter!)

But getting a private show was a treat! And the funny thing is, that old Elvin Bishop song- "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" was on my most favored playlist-- and, as it just so happens, Mr. Johnny V played that song when he toured with Elvin Bishop for 6 years!

And then, while I was listening to my Johnny V CD (over and over again), I went through a major movie going/renting phase, which just so happened to spawn a major iTunes shopping spree.

It all started with JUNO (if you haven’t seen it yet, please drop whatever it is that you’re doing and Get thee to the Cineplex!). The second I got home I downloaded Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” (I already had the David Bowie version, but it’s always nice to have the original), and “Anyone Else But You” because I really liked the ending where the two characters sang it to each other.

And then I saw INTO THE WILD—(another must see!)—and found myself downloading a bunch of those moody Eddie Vedder songs that so perfectly made up the movie’s soundtrack.

My recent re-rental (is that a word?) of ALMOST FAMOUS inspired the purchase of “Wind” by Cat Stevens because I love that scene where Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) is dancing alone on an empty stage with that song playing in the background. Actually I love just about everything about that movie and am extremely envious of Cameron Crowe’s childhood as (according to the movie) it was WAY more glamorous and exciting than mine!

Watching HIGH FIDELITY (for the gazillionth time) didn’t spawn any recent downloads, though it did confirm my zealot’s love of music and anything Nick Hornby.

So what about you? Has a song from a movie ever inspired a music shopping binge??

Alyson Noel is the author of FAKING 19, ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, LAGUNA COVE, FLY ME TO THE MOON, KISS & BLOG, SAVING ZOE, FIST KISS (THEN TELL), CRUEL SUMMER (May 2008), and MY IMMORTAL (Fall 2008). You can visit her at:

Wednesday, January 9

Here we go again...

The hype has been building for weeks. In just days, American Idol season VII kicks off with back-to-back audition episodes. The Paula weirdness is back. The Simon surliness is back. Yo, yo, yo, dawg, check it out; Randy's back. Are you excited yet?

Me neither.

I'm a music lover and as such (or despite the fact, depending on how you want to look at it), I've been an off-and-on American Idol fan for its entire run. I watched the first season and voted for Kelly Clarkson. In season two, I rooted for both Clay and Reuben, wishing they could have tied for the top honor. Seasons three and four were lost in our move to Japan, but I was able to watch season five via the internet with my slingbox. Now that was a fun season to watch. (Go Daughtry!) But season six? Not so much.

Seriously. With the exception of Sanjaya's hair, what was there to talk about? Blake Lewis's beat-boxing was entertaining, but that's about it. Maybe that's why Paula kept publicly spacing out. At least it got people talking about the show. But it didn't help the numbers much.

In fact, a lot of people are wondering if the American Idol machine may have run its course. Interest has waned. Former fans have become jaded. Idol folks themselves seem to have been cutting their losses, inviting Katherine McFee to join Taylor Hicks and Reuben Studdard as former members of the Sony BMG family.

Me? I'm willing to give AI one more shot. With the amount of seasoned pros who are said to have made it to the top 50 this year, the talent pool may be worth watching. I do hope that Simon has learned from the backlash after his snide comment about Mandisa's weight in season five and the despicable "bush baby" comment last year and won't be so mean-spirited while humiliating those auditioning this year. And that the cameras won't linger quite so long on those poor souls who have been cut. I mean, really. What was the purpose of that?

What do you think? Will American Idol improve this year or dig its grave?


My name's Sara and I have a secret.......

Stop it..... it's not that sort of secret....... my secret is something that causes shaking heads, and muffled laughter when certain people find out (because they really think it's funny, or do they secretly harbor the same desire..... hmmm????).

So..... for as long as I remember (like, from as early as 5 years old) despite loving all the latest bands... I have also LOVED musicals (obsessively). I can't help it. When I go to the theatre, it's always a musical. I've been known to go to two musicals in the West End on the same day - a matinee in the afternoon and an evening performance, and another one the next day. I can't get enough of them. I'll also go and see the same musical over and over again, Les Miserables being one of them (do you know how much I love that show?).

And it's not just the 'blockbuster' type musicals. One of my all time favorites is La Cage Aux Folle.... who can't help being blown away by a fabulous rendition of I Am What I Am (just mentioning it has got me singing it to myself). And what about Windy City.... I've lost count how many times I saw that in my youth, and how the sound track would blast out of my CD player at all hours of the day and night in my bedroom.

So what about you..... are you a musical person?????

Monday, January 7

The King and I

This week's topic is about music so I thought I'd talk about Elvis.

I love Elvis - not in a 'travel to Gracelands and burst into tears' sort of way, just in an 'everytime I listen to him sing I get sad that he died' way. Anyway, I have a lot of songs I listen to when I write, but every now and then I get an overwhelming desire for something specific - the urge is a bit like when I was pregnant and was compelled to eat breakfast cereal all day long. I have no idea why the craving was there, but it could not be denied or controlled (as my husband quickly discovered).

And so it was when I started writing my zombie book. Whenever I opened up the file I just wanted to listen to Elvis. So much so that in the end he managed to hip thrust his way into the story and I can honestly say it was one of the funniest scenes I've ever written (of course I'm not saying anyone else will laugh at it, but it amused me no end and still does).

Right now I'm going through a major Bowie phase and no doubt he'll manage to Ziggy Stardust his way in somewhere as well!! Has this ever happened to anyone else where a specific artist or song has suddenly hijacked your life like this?

First Kiss Contest Winner!

Thanks to all of you who so bravely shared your first kiss experiences! All of your posts were so good it was impossible to choose! So relying on the old Name-In-The-Hat trick, I'm happy to announce that the winner is:

So, "TeenBookReviewer" please contact me and let me know where to send it!

Thanks again for playing!

Friday, January 4


Church Lady!

Cyber confetti, please! :)

Church Lady, please email me at with your snail mail address and to whom you'd like it signed to, and I'll get your copy of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren on its merry little way.

Thank you all so much for participating. I wish I could give books to all of you! Drop by often, because there will be more Promo Weeks at the Teen Fiction Cafe. And if you haven't already, be sure to check out Alyson's book give-away below.

Wednesday, January 2

Promo Week!

Well it's promo week here at the Teen Fiction Cafe, and what better way to kick off the New Year than to win a free book??

This time around, I'm giving away a copy of FIRST KISS (THEN TELL), a compilation of the all too true stories of twenty-some YA authors (including yours truly!) writing about their first kiss experiences.

Now I admit, when I was first approached to do this, the second after I said YES! I panicked.

Seriously panicked.

Thinking—no way can I tell that story!

I mean, I'd successfully banished it from my memory bank, blocked it out for a reason. But, as they say, truth really is stranger than fiction--or in my case more humbling, more desperate, more overall embarrassing!

So if you're up for reading all the cringe worthy details... all you have to do is leave a comment telling me where you were (basement, golf course, Dumbo ride at Disneyland?) when the big moment occurred. . . and one of you will receive your very own autographed copy!

(Small Print= comment deadline is Midnight Jan. 5).

Also, in the spirit of self promotion, my next book, CRUEL SUMMER, will be in stores this May, and I can hardly wait! The cover is awesome, but since there are still a few minor tweaks to be done I'll wait to post it. But I will say that it's the story of OC native, Colby, a high school junior, poised for the best summer of her life, when her parents decide to get divorced and pack her off to live on a tiny Greek island with her aunt. And even though she definitely does not want to go, she ends up experiencing a summer she'll never forget . . .

Also, I'm thrilled to say that SAVING ZOE was awarded the TeensReadToo 5 star/Gold Award, was chosen as one of TeenReads "Best Books of 2007" and was recently mentioned on the CBS "Early Show" as one of three books to buy for teens! As this book was born out of a period of intense grief, I'm over the moon thrilled, and just wanted to thank all of you who supported it!

And sometime over the next few weeks (sorry, I don't have an exact date) my interview with ETAccess will air. You can check it out HERE.

So don't forget to leave me a comment, letting me know exactly where you were the first time you found yourself lip-locked! And for those of you who haven't experienced this yet-- tell me where you wish for this moment to take place!!

Happy New Year everyone!