Monday, June 30

Da Do Run Run

I ran a mile over the weekend without stopping. I didn't really mean to. Previously, the furthest I had run was a quarter mile. Once around the track. So I thought I would see if I could run two. Then I felt pretty good after the second one so I thought I'd try for three. After getting about half way around the third time, I realized what I'd done. Now I HAD to run around the fourth time because I was just one tiny lap from making a mile. So I did it. Rocky has nothing on me.

Then, to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I did it the next day, too.

I've always wanted to run. Where this insane desire comes from, I have no idea because quite frankly, I hate it. I've never been into physical fitness and even flunked PE a couple of times because I refused to do what the teachers wanted me to. But I love the lean and mean look runners have. I see someone running who has obviously been doing it for a while and I'm torn between jealousy and thinking they must be missing a few brain cells.

But secretly I've always wanted to do it. And why not? Check them out!

My daughter, who runs sporadically, told me I should run with her ipod, but I've resisted. Walking or running is the only time I have away from electronic devices or a book. It's the only time where I have to completely entertain myself. I think about my wips, my business strategy and what I'm going to eat later that day.

Jane Porter once posted a blog where she wanted to get lean and mean, both physically and in her writing and I guess that is what I am trying to do. Write better books and have a better body. Good goals. What do you think?

Friday, June 27

Paging Mrs. Ringo Starr . . .

So this week we're blogging about crushes--and for me, it all started with Ringo Starr.

I was six years old and feeling very grown up to be hanging out with my older sisters and several of their uber cool friends--all of us taking turns drooling over the Let it Be album cover, choosing which Beatle we'd most likely marry--when pretty much everyone there (predictably) chose Paul

Except me.  I went straight for Ringo.

Partly because of his assumed availability since nobody present seemed to be interested in him, and partly because he had the coolest name I'd ever heard at the time. (Also, something about his long scraggly hair and moustache really spoke to me).

I carried this crush on Ringo for years--imagining how Alyson Starr would look on our wedding announcement (quite good, I still think). Only to enter junior high, cave to peer pressure, and replace Ringo with a number of the popular teen idols at the time. Guys like: Leif Garrett, John Travolta (um, this was back in the Saturday Night Fever craze), and Parker Stevenson--definitely my Hardy Boy of choice.

To say my tastes had hit the mainstream would be putting it mildly. But by high school, all of that changed and my affections switched to the serious rock stars--and the more British the better! I spent major hard earned $$ saved from working my after school job to sit third row at the David Bowie Modern Love concert. And did the same with Paul Weller of The Jam and Style Council Fame, as well as Morrissey, those guys from the Cure, and, no, I'm not at all ashamed to admit it, Adam Ant--whose white stripe and come hither gaze, drove me wild!

But lately, my affections have changed. Now it's the smart, quirky funny types that garner my interest. Which means if Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Dennis Leary, or Ricky Gervais ever wants to buy me a coffee--well, that's okay by me.

But then again, if David Boreanaz from Angel fame ever wants to brood on my balcony--he's more than welcome.

So tell me, have your crushes changed through the years--or do you stick with one type?

Thursday, June 26

Summer Crushes


This is a repeat of a blog post I did for YAEnchanting Reviews a while ago. But the answers can be fun, so here we go...

In my latest book, DEATH BY BIKINI, Aphra Connoly must decide if the new hot boy on the
island is worth the trouble he and his family bring to her dad's
exclusive resort. But then, Aphra develops a rather serious crush...
is her judgment impaired?

Crushes truly have a power all their own. Behavior we would normally,
as sane people, never exhibit, we come to find is second nature.
Couple that with the romance power of summer nights and watch out! For
the entire summer break, you might not be in control of your actions.

I lived in a college town. Every summer, that college would host
sports camps... which meant a new crop of boys every couple of weeks!
This was mostly just a fun diversion - crashing the summer dances,
flirting with the guys - a new COW (Crush of the Week) every seven days, but there was one boy...

I don't remember anything about him except his pretty green eyes and
the way he walked - with a little bit of a lilt on the upstep. So
cute. I followed him all over campus the week he was there. Missed
work, stayed out after curfew, got a nasty sunburn watching him
practice baseball. All for a crush that would only last seven days.

But you know what? It was a fun seven days! Nothing quite matches the
thrill of a summer crush.

So, tell me: what stupid things have you done in the name of a summer
crush? Come on, come clean!

* Image from SUMMER RAIN, 2007

Wednesday, June 25

First Crush

The most obvious crush for me to talk about is my long standing adoration of all things David Boreanaz, however, let's face it I'm not really a sharer, so I might just keep him to myself and talk about my first crush instead.

I was eight and it was on Will Robinson from the television show Lost in Space. God I loved that guy, and you know I really feel that he loved me as well. Yes, distance was a problem. I was in Australia and he was, well, Lost in Space, but when something is true and real you don't let details like that get in the way.

And actually, my crush on Will was probably a clue that I was meant to be a writer because the things I did to that boy. I broke his leg numerous times just so I could look after him. I think I gave him measles once as well because I figured hey, he's already got freckles, what's the difference. In fact I think I had about two happy years with Will before those Hardy Boys came along and my fickle heart was distracted by becoming Mrs Parker Stevens. I have had crushes on real people as well, but they were a bit harder. I mean I've got a reasonably bendy imagination but it's hard to dream about a boy when you've seen him pick his nose in the playground and then go and fart on someone's head.

So what about everyone else? Was your first crush on someone real, or a celebrity?

Sunday, June 22

Le sigh..........

This week we're talking about crushes, so I thought I'd talk about my latest (okay, I have discussed him before, but what the heck.... you can't get enough of a good thing).

Late to the party, I might be, but my crush is no less deep...... the gorgeous Johnny Depp. I even forced myself to watch all the blood and gore in Sweeny Todd, just to watch him.... and I LOVE his singing voice and his English accent is spot on!!

And what I love most about Johnny (not counting his fabulous bone structure... and the rest of his body) is that he's such a cool actor. When you watch him in a movie you see the character he's playing... and not Johnny Depp playing the character..... if you get what I mean).

So..... who else has a Johnny crush????

Btw..... Clive Owen and Keven Costner (even if he is a bit older) also figure on my radar!!!!

Friday, June 20

Sunday, June 15


Since my most recent book for teens - ME, IN BETWEEN - came out in March, and since so many older teens read my adult books, at least the comedies, I hope no one will mind if the book I promo today is BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES. It's my fifth and, as far as I know, my final book for Red Dress Ink.

"Baby" is the nickname of Delilah Sampson, an obsessive compulsive window washer who turns to her father's profession - casino blackjack - in order to finance her most recent obsession: Jimmy Choos. As her story progresses, Baby finds herself drawn towards two men: Billy Charisma, a tuxedo-wearing professional gambler whose name says it all, and Chris, a follow-your-dream kind of guy whose own ambition is to excel at being a yo-yoist.

I rarely complain publicly about anything to do with publishing: 1) because it's mostly a futile exercise; and 2) because it's usually bad form. But I'm going to complain a little bit today.

The book I originally turned in, over two years ago, was titled BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF CHOOS. No one questioned the title, no one made a fuss...until a few weeks ago when I received an email informing me that the legal department at RDI had decided that unless they could get someone at Jimmy Choo to OK the title, it would need to be changed. And now I've been informed that, having been unable to get anyone at Jimmy Choo to return their calls, the title has been changed. Not much dismays me about publishing - I've even been asked to change a few of my titles in the past when the people in marketing or whatever have decided that they wanted a change - but I am dismayed by this, because sometimes a title is perfect for a book. Can you imagine if THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA had instead been titled THE DEVIL WEARS HIGH FASHION? No, I didn't think so. It doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? So now I feel I've gone from a title that was terrific and catchy - and one that was fully expressive of all dimensions of the book - to one that is substantially less so.

Ah, well. Thanks for listening to me whine.

So here's my promo bid for today: please preorder my book, no matter what its title, and encourage your friends to do the same, because the best revenge I've ever found in publishing is good sales.



Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, June 13

That's what friends are for...

Okay, so I may have some very angsty diary entries and some fairly mortifying high school moments I'd like to forget, but what always got me through those rough patches was friendship.

I made this collage for the cover of my senior-year scrapbook (1995, thank you very much!) and it really illustrates who I was in high school. Because all of my best friends back then were a part of me. And they still are.

Yes, that's me in the center in my Nanette Lepore prom dress--which is in my closet right now. I am nothing if not nostalgic.

So what about you guys? Still friends with those high school BFFs? Or--if you're in the midst of high school right now--do you plan to stay friends?

I recommend it. There's no one in the world like the people who knew you then.

Surviving Adolescence: My Room

As a mom of four, the idea that my bedroom is my sanctuary is . . . well, laughable. By the time I am done with dinner, clean-up, laundry, writing, answering emails, homework duty, putting my Demon Baby to bed, and all the rest of it, and get into my bed, all I want to do is collapse in quiet and read. But then starts the older ones tromping in. This one wants to talk about boy problems. This one about his evil science teacher. This one about . . . life in elementary school. So I put my book down and talk. Because I know too well that someday, they will all be gone and no one will want to talk to me.

But when I was a teenager? My bedroom was my sanctuary. My escape from my FAMILY. Much as I loved them, I just wanted to be ALONE. It helped that my room was in the finished basement. I had my own bathroom, and it was quiet down there. I could cocoon all I wanted. I could read. Play my clock radio. (I know . . . dating myself here. Now, of course, I have a killer stereo and iPod.) Talk to my boyfriend on the phone. In other words, HIDE.

Better yet, when the weekend came, I could SLEEP. Right now, I have sleep lust. Between four kids and deadlines, sleep is something I crave.

But back then . . . I could sleep in until noon.

I wouldn't want to go through high school again. But sometimes I find myself wishing for that old cave of a room of mine.

Anyone else treasure their room in their teenage years?

Monday, June 9

Surviving Adolescence: Riding!

For me, growing up in the 90s meant one thing...horses!

After school, I couldn't wait to get out to the stables and ride, groom and learn how to train horses. I lived in a small suburban part of Tennessee (Greenbrier) and was lucky enough to have this riding arena right behind my house. When I did homework after school, I could look out and watch boarders ride and train their horses. I often had to move to the front of the house so I stopped watching them out the back windows.

That Appaloosa, AJ, was my first lesson horse. Oh, he was old and yes, he was was stubborn. But he was the best teacher. He taught me how to be a rider and how to listen to a horse's needs. He was a great partner and he helped me learn how to impress the girls at my new school with my riding skills. :)

Before we moved to Tennessee, we lived in Ocala, FL. This was a horse from a horse fair my family and I attended. I made my parents sooo nervous because I was always walking up to strange horses (even the occasional stallion!) and talking to them. I was a tiny kid, but if you had a horse, I'd ask for a boost so I could ride.

One of my absolute favorite horsey things to do was trail ride. My friend Amy and I would take our horses into the woods and get lost riding. We guided our horses through people's backyards (Sorry!), over creeks (Kind of dumb, now that I think about it) and along roads that saw a car a day. That was in the mid-90s and before cell phones were so inexpensive. Imagine how far my mom would have let me ride if I'd had a cell!

Horses were my most precious thing during childhood. They gave me the inspiration to write Take the Reins and the rest of the Canterwood Crest books. Name something from your childhood that inspires your writing.

Sunday, June 8

Surviving Adolescence

In some ways, I think it must be easier to survive adolescence now than when I was growing up. Where braces used to resemble the shiny grille on a car - at eight I was Buck-Teeth Baratz, at 10 I was Tinsel-Teeth Baratz - orthodontia has made advances such that braces are now virtually invisible. Where bad skin could ruin the effect of a pretty face or a handsome one, dermatology has made advances such that a lot of the emotional pain that used to center around acne can now be avoided.

But each generation has its own crosses to bear. Not being an adolescent anymore, I can only surmise what those are for people growing up now: a technology-driven world where advances function as dual-edged swords; an ever-increasing pressure to grow up fast.

Whatever the causes of adolescent angst, and there are many more I haven't listed here, I offer up two solutions:

1. Books. I really do believe books can save a person's life. They distract you from pain. They help you figure out solutions. They show you others who have it worse. They provide blueprints for how you can make things far better. They open up worlds you might not have otherwise imagined.

2. One Good Friend. My mother used to say that all a person really needs is one good friend. And I think she's right. Sure, it's nice to have lots of friends - hey, on MySpace I have over 4000 friends! - but you really just need one. One good friend who loves you unconditionally. One good friend for whom you can return the favor of unconditional love. Sometimes, in your darkest hours, that one good friend may turn out to be yourself.

Me, I'm going through a blue patch here. So after signing off, I'm going to take my own advice, since that survival strategy doesn't work just for adolescents but also for old ladies like me: I'm going to phone a friend and then I'm going to curl up with Liza Conrad's EIGHTH GRADE BITES.


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Monday, June 2

Books You Can't Live Without

I'm guessing that most of the bloggers and visitors to the Teen Fiction Cafe love books, and I'm no exception. I love to escape, whether to a real place or one you can only imagine--or to be able to see the world through an interesting character's eyes.

But have you ever sat down and thought about the books you simply cannot live without? Books that guide you in your everyday life, help to define those things that are fuzzy for you, or serve as must-have references?

Glancing through my bookshelf, there are several nonfiction books I like to have on hand. The Bible, the dictionary, the thesaurus, my "What to Expect When You're Expecting" was a must-have when I was pregnant, health books, writing books, parenting books, "The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Inspirational Quotes," and "Kama Sutra." Just kidding on that last one, but seriously, these books are such that if they went missing, I'd have to replace them.

Do you own any book(s) that you cannot live without?

Books, Books, Books!

It’s book week here on Teen Fiction Café and if there’s one thing writers love, its books. Big books, little books, red books, blue books—even books that rhyme!

Some fabulous books I’ve read this year include:

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Violet on the Runway

The City of Bones

Some books I’m looking forward to reading include:

Death by Bikini

Cruel Summer

And if you are looking for a fun read you might want to try my book, Read My Lips, available tomorrow!