Monday, September 29

Book Boy Crushes

Today, I'm talking about CRUSHES! Instead of real-life guys I've crushed on or even movie star crushes, I wanted to talk about fictional crushes!

I've always crushed on guys in books. When I was a kid, I looooved Tom Sawyer. (And it didn't help when Jonathon Taylor Thomas played Tom in the Disney movie version!) Tom was H-O-T because he had awesome adventures like rafting and fishing, played pranks on Aunt Polly and was BFFs with another hot guy--Huck. But Tom crushed on that pesky Becky... Yeah, I wanted her to disappear.

Then, I went through an "I Heart Edward Cullen" phase. OMG. Is there a hotter YA character than Edward? (Silence, Team Jacob.) ;) My Edward love died a little during Breaking Dawn, but when the Twilight movies hits screens, I'm sure it'll come back in full force.

Now, my book boy crush is...Luke from Maggie Stiefvater's Lament. Luke is charming, mysterious, insanely attractive and...magical. *sighs*

So, who's your fictional guy crush? Spill!

Sunday, September 28


The last time I wrote about crushes here, I probably wrote about boys from school, those crushes that at least have the potential of being requited, however poorly they may turn out. Well, today I'm going to write about that most elusive of crush: the star crush.

Like most females, I had a series of star crushes growing up: the guy who played Don West on "Lost in Space", the guy who played Willie on "The Rookies", Don Johnson (specifically the episode where, at around age 18, he played a bad guy on "The Rookies" - OK, I had a "Rookies" fetish), Mick Jagger. And, like most females, I had some pret-ty elaborate fantasies about how things would go down if I ever got my Big Chance.

All I can say is, thank God it never worked out! I haven't seen the guys who played Don West or Willie in recent years, so for all I know maybe they've held up. But have you seen Don Johnson lately? Like I need that in my life? And Mick Jagger? Actually, given how much exercise he gets, he's probably in better shape than I am. But the dude's old enough to be my (young) father!

Speaking of The Rolling Stones, when I was 12, one of my best girlfriends and I both had Stone fixations. I had 300 pictures of them collaged on one of my bedroom walls. Not because they were my favorite band or my biggest crush - they weren't - but rather, because it was a lot easier to get pictures of them than any other of my crush objects, plus it looked really cool. In terms of the band, I favored Mick, or Bill Wyman. For my friend's part, she was strictly a Keith Richards girl all the way. Now, lest you think "Euww!" at the idea of Keith as a crush object, let me point out that 30 or so years ago he was quite the hottie. One of the best pictures on my Wall Of Stones was one of Keith semi-passed out in a folding chair, guitar across his smooth naked chest, wearing skin-tight jeans that had a strategically placed embroidered strawberry. His face? Angelic, almost pretty, unlined - in short, nothing like the map of the world (and not in a good way) that constitutes his face now.

Speaking of that map of the world face, that's the problem with crushes: they seem like such a good idea at the time, but give them a decade or two or three, and you have to ask yourself, "What was I thinking of???" So Mick Jagger, wherever you are, I say to you now, "Thank you for never noticing my existence in this world"; and to Keith Richards, on behalf of my friend, "Thank you for never asking her to marry you, much as she thought she wanted that. Really, it's all turned out for the best."

Star crushes: the thing is, particularly when you're a teenager, they tend to be so much older than you are, even if you don't notice that in the moment. And by the time you're grown, they're *old*! That's why crushes, by virtue of definition, are transient things; as a rule - which can certainly be broken in special cases - they're of the moment, and not for all time.

That's not to say that a person should give up on crushes entirely, but rather, just enjoy them for what they are. Me, I may have mentioned this guy before? Ooh, darn! I can never insert images properly here, so you'll have to look at the upper lefthand corner of the blog. Anyway, the actor's name is Julian McMahon, that's him playing demon Cole Turner on "Charmed", he currently plays a badboy doctor on "Nip & Tuck" where I am hoping to see him naked soon, and I just Wiki-ed him: Woo-hoo! He's six years younger than I am, meaning a decade or two or three from now, he's unlikely to look like my father; at the very least, he should look no worse than I do. "Hey, Julian, baby! There's a chance for us!"


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, September 26

Anything Goes: TGIF!

No, I don't mean Thank Goodness It's Friday, I mean Thank Goodness It's Fall!!!

Since it's Anything Goes week here on TFC. I thought I'd take the time to celebrate the beginning of my favorite season! Now there are a lot of things I like about summer, like vacations and gardening and beaches, but I'm not a big fan of extremely hot and humid days. Growing up in the Midwest, I've come to loathe winter (every year I swear I'll be in a warmer locale the next year) and spring just doesn't cut it after those long winter months. Fall is just the one for me.

For one, fall weather is my kind of weather. Hoodies and boots, I missed you and am so happy to wear you again! And maybe I'm a freak, but since I kinda liked school and learning, fall seems to motivate me to get more reading and writing done. And the air just smells so good! And harvest! And changing leaves! And, best of all, Halloween!!!

One of my dearest friends/former roommate was in town at the beginning of the week and we wanted to celebrate the first full day of fall by going to a farm with a pumpkin patch and a corn maze that we'd discovered a few years back. So I thought I was going to have all kinds of cool fall pictures to share with you, but alas... They don't open until next week!

So instead, here are some photos from my last adventure to the pumpkin patch and corn maze:
Yeah, we went late in the season, the patch was a little picked over, but there was plenty to buy!

I know the Corn Maze looks pretty basic, but we actually got kind of lost in there and a little bit freaked out!And most important, the bounty of pumpkins and gourds:

And a fall blog would not be complete without one embarrassing childhood Halloween photo:
This was taken in fifth grade. I'm the chick in the box (See how I was way tiny back then! Shorter than all my friends and even my little brother! I hated it!). I'm supposed to be a TV. I tended toward costumes that involved either boxes or posterboard back then. I was a playing card (the Queen of Hearts of course) in 4th grade, a dye (as in dice, but singular!) in sixth grade (and I think we reused the same box as the TV). My costumes may not have been masterpieces, but I was creative! Clearly my little brother (who is all the way to the right) also liked using cardboard for his costumes. He's supposed to be a ketchup bottle. It was hard to walk in that costume for him and at one point he tipped right over. I'm ashamed to admit that I was an awful big sister and me and my friends laughed at him for a minute before helping him up.

But today I'm making it up to him by publically embarrassing him in another way: I want to share how proud I am of that little ketchup bottle.... err my brother Dan, who passed his Bar exam in the state of Missouri and was officially recognized (or licensed or however that works...) in a ceremony today as a lawyer! So yay, Dan!!!!

Everyone congratulate my brother and share your favorite things about fall, past Halloween costumes, and future Halloween plans (I think I'm going to be a roller derby girl this year!).

Tuesday, September 23


I love the anything goes topic… it means I can talk about whatever's on my mind and whatever I’m doing. As a nonfiction writer, I’m usually given topics, so being able to write whatever I want is priceless! So today what I want to write about is running!

I have a very checkered relationship with running. When I was in junior high, I hated it so much that I almost got expelled for refusing to run in PE. I came up with a lot of excuses not to run, so when the teacher finally got fed up and ordered me to, I told her to bugger off. (I was very ballsy for a twelve year old and very into English novels at the time.) I walked and ended up in the vice principals office. Now Mrs. Northrup and I went back a long way… like the time she swatted me for chewing gum in the classroom, and the time she kicked me out of school for writing inflammatory poetry about a substitute government teacher. (I was busted after one of the other students threw it back to me when the sub tried to take it and I ate the whole missive when she was coming after me.) I hated the injustice of it… after all, they had no proof— I was digesting it—and didn’t understand how they could kick me out without evidence. But I digress. When the PE teacher sent me to the office, I knew I was toast. And I was. Mrs. Northrup, (Think the Principal McGee of Grease), gave me a three day suspension.
So no, I’ve never been a runner.

But six months ago, I took a good long look at my health and decided I had better do something about it. So I decided I would be a runner even though I hated to run. It’s worked. I’ve dropped a bunch of weight and last Sunday I ran the Race for the Cure. That’s 5k people, 3.1 miles. And I ran the whole thing without stopping.
It was a great first race to run. Over 45,000 people showed up for the runs and walks and they had bands and cheerleaders every few blocks. The energy was amazing! I don’t know if I have ever been so proud of myself as when I finished that run.

Do I love running now? Not really. There are times when I’m bored out of my mind and times when I have to force myself to go out and do it. But I love how I feel afterwards and that makes it worth it!

See, you can be a runner and hate running!

Sunday, September 21

Sunday Afternoon Sightings

This week's topic is "Anything Goes" so I decided to take my camera with me for an hour and post some pix for you all to see. I live in a beautiful valley, and today I drove down the canyon to run some errands. The autumn colors are just starting to pop out. I think in a week or so they'll be at their most brilliant. Aren't the clouds pretty today? I started decorating for Halloween and am taking a break to watch the Broncos-Saints NFL game. Marshall was sweet enough to catch Cutler's pass and make a TD right as my camera went off. Thanks, guys! If the Broncos win, I think this just might be a perfect day.

Friday, September 19

Find the Funny

I have another coping mechanism to add to Alyson's great list below. Helps me survive still and I'm far from adolescence. My strategy? Laugh. I don't know about you, but I make a lot of mistakes. It really helps if I can laugh about it.

One of the things I get wrong constantly are lyrics to songs. It's been a long-standing joke with my family. Sometimes they let me go on believing I know what I'm singing and then wait until I make a total fool of myself by belting it out wrong at the most inopportune times. It's embarrassing. But I have to admit misheard lyrics are funny.

Here's one of my favorites:

Potato wave. Hehe. Make me fries.

Shameless plug: If you want some more giggles, come on over to and take a look at some of the outrageous lies going on at the DEATH BY LATTE launch party.

Really. Laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, September 18

Cornflake Girl

So this week we’re posing about “surviving adolescence” and the truth is I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about it on a personal level. (Though hopefully I am on a fictional level, since, well, that’s pretty much what I do!) But the thing is, I never really feel like a grown-up, (despite home mortgage, husband, and all outward appearances).

I’ve never had one of those Oprah-type, light-bulb moments, where I thought—Aha! THIS is what it’s like to be an adult!

My first drink? Um, I’m afraid that happened long before I turned 21 . . .

My first presidential vote? A moment of exhilaration when I closed the voting booth curtain—immediately followed by the return of the not-so grownup me.

But then, maybe my being stuck in a permanent state of non-maturity (my preferred term to immaturity), really does qualify me to write on this topic since, truth be told, I pretty much rely on the same things to get by today, as I did back then.

So here, in short, is my survival list—in no particular order of importance:

Books. Immersing myself in another world is and always has been the cheapest, quickest, and bestest way to escape whatever’s bugging me!

Music. Like Books, what I’m listening to can either reflect my mood or change my mood. And while I still listen to a lot of the same music I listened to back in the day, I no longer want to marry David Bowie. He and Iman seem very happy together and I’d hate to interfere with that.

Friends. A few like-minded friends are the best defense in a tough world. I’ve got my e-mail friends, my phone call friends, my see-in-person friends, and the one thing they all have in common, (besides the fact that they ROCK), is that they can make me laugh—which releases endorphins—which makes me (even more) optimistic—which makes everything better!

The belief in better things to come. Yup, sappy as it sounds, I believe in silver linings, that that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, that the sun is always shining behind the clouds. I believe in all those sappy sayings you find on posters with pictures of eagles soaring or kittens hanging from tree branches--without, er, actually owning one of those posters!

Travel. My number one antidote to everything--when I’m stuck, bored, frustrated or all three—is to go somewhere. Whether it’s around the world, around the block, around the Internet, or inside a new book. Seeing something else and/or learning something new always adds new perspective.  

A good zit cream that works. What can I say? Some things never change

What about you? What helps/helped you get by?

Tuesday, September 16

Surviving adolescences

This week at Teen Fiction Cafe the topic is about surviving adolescences. At first I wasn't quite sure about what to blog about but as I thought about my teenage years, I realized that what really stood out was my memories of two people who didn't survive it.

One guy at my high school died in a car accident. He was seventeen years old and quite literally the most popular outgoing person in the entire school. I still remember how we were all told at assembly what had happened. I was sixteen at the time and one of my friends had just started dating this guy. At first we thought it was a joke (though of course looking back, it's hardly what anyone would joke about) and as the news slowly sunk in, everyone was devastated.

That same year another guy at school committed suicide. He wasn't a good friend of mine but I did know him quite well and he was really close to a lot of my other friends - none of who had seen it coming. Again, even though this wasn't accidental, it was equally disturbing and twenty-four years later I still think about both of those guys and how their lives might've been. I also know that in some way they helped shape my life because it really was my first taste of that fact that none of us are invincible.

Tuesday, September 9

Promo week - the zombies are coming

Did you know that zombies are like buses? Well they are because in March 2009 there isn't just one zombie book out, or two, or - oh, hell, this could take a while so I'll cut to the chase, - there are FIVE zombie books coming out for your reading pleasure.

That's right.


How crazy is that? Little did I know that when I had a hankering to write about zombies because, well, it was a funny word that made me laugh, that I would be stumbling onto something so cool. So now that I've started to tease you, here is what will be hitting the shelves come March.

First up is my own humble offering: Zombie Queen of Newbury High (Puffin) about what happens when Mia Everett accidentally turns the entire senior year (including teachers) into brain-dead, flesh-munching zombies just days before prom and suddenly finds herself up first up on the menu.

Next we have Mark Henry's Road Trip of the Living Dead (Kensington) which is the second in his series about Amanda Feral (think Carrie Bradshaw but with better shoes and a little bit more protein in her diet!!!)

Then there is Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte) about a young girl living in a post-zombie-Apocalypse world.

Stacey Jay's You Are So Undead to Me (Razorbill) is about a teenage zombie hunter and her fight to save her prom date from getting eaten.

And lastly but definitely not leastly (tis so a word) there is SG Browne's Breathers: A Zombie's Lament (Broadway) about a newly minted zombie trying to get on with his life (or death!)

So there you go folks, it looks like Zombies are officially the new black (or the new blood red) and the best bit is that you don't even have to like watching scary movies to enjoy a good zombie book - well, mine anyway since, let's face it, I'm a fainter and I can't even look at blood let alone consider writing about it too much, so whatever your gore level, there is a zombie book for you!!!!

Monday, September 8

Promo Week: Lots of Happy Things!

mom.jpg 1. I did a guest vlog for Marjolein's Book Blog this week about a recent bookstore trip. Go watch if you have 2 minutes and 51 seconds to spare. And though I totally butchered the pronounciation of her name, I now know it's Mar-Jo-LINE. Gorgeous!

2. Smart-and-funny author Maureen Johnson has a fantastic blog post up about Bristol Palin, and I'd recommend that everyone check it out and join the comments, where there are tons of views and opinions, as there should be.

3. I just love the idea behind Jeannie Ralston's The Unlikely Lavender Queen (my mom is a big lavender lover, and she's pictured here in her gardening hat--isn't Mom cute?). Anyway, if you order Jeannie's book through the amazon "buy the book" link on her site, some of the proceeds from that sale will go to a "Seed Campaign," which will make contributions to a different charitable organization each month (including lavender farms). More info from galleycat here.

4. How could I forget? Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 6:00 PM is Teen Author Reading Night with Me, Emily Franklin, Gordan Korman, Beth Levine Ain and Robin Wasserman. Jefferson Market NYPL, 425 Avenue of the Americas, NYC

Friday, September 5

My friends? They're on TV.

My embarrassing moment confession can be illustrated by the night my high school friends and I baked a cake for Billy and Allison's ill-fated wedding on Melrose Place. We were obsessed! In this page of my ridiculously details scrapbook from junior year, I'm down in front in the brown shirt. The cake is on my friend Anne's lap, in the middle.

I'm still obsessed with TV to the point that I bring TV moments into my real life as if the characters are my friends. Anyone else?

I'm not quite sure it's mortifying, but it's certainly something I usually keep from people when I first meet them. Unless we share a knowing glance, one in which we both realize we are TV people. Then, a true friendship is born, as long as our DVR lists overlap.

Thursday, September 4

not so much an "embarrassing moment" as an "ongoing humiliation"

I whacked myself on the head with a carabiner clip this morning at boot camp. It hurt. And anyone would feel stupid. So, why did I immediately go from "ow" and "I feel dumb" to tears? It didn't hurt that much. Also, I am 37 years old, nearly 38. I've been through a lot worse than a minor carabiner incident and not cried. So why was this so embarrassing and upsetting? Or as my therapist would say, "What do you think that says about you?" Two letters: P.E.

Yes, me and PhysEd have a long and bitter relationship. I was an overweight, asthmatic kid who was always at the back of pack. Always dead last in anything involving running. Always the one on the side of the road with a side cramp and a purple face. More than anything, I dreaded the President's Physical Fitness Test, that moment when the teacher would show me the clipboard with the charts about what the average kid like me should be able to do. And then, trailing his or her pencil waaaayyyyy way way way down the page to where I was.

The funny thing is, I liked and like sports. I liked and like movement.  I was the only girl on a YMCA basketball team when I was a kid. No one ever passed me the ball. In high school, I thought floor hockey was the most fun a person could have a gymnasium, not that I was any good. I was in a church softball league and at my first at-bat, I got a hit. And then, I fell while running to first base. I kept playing. A friend told me afterwards, "Wow, I would have just cried, left the field, and never come back." (Yeah, it was a pretty ugly-looking fall.) As an adult, I'm too stubborn to let a little humiliation keep from something I generally enjoy.

This morning, though, was rough. We were working with these exercise cords with handles on both ends, standing on them (the clip part, which we use for other purposes) and then doing bicep curls. And I was standing there already feeling really cranky. Thinking things like, I wish the trainer would warm us up better before doing stuff involving our lower backs. I wish he'd remember we don't all exercise for a living and when he says 'combat stance' I don't really know what that means. I wish he'd give me more reminders about proper form because I haven't done this kind of stuff since last summer. And, gee, these cords seem kind of dangerous, what if it slipped out from under my shoe and the carabiner popped my eye out? Then, like magic, my cord slipped out. (Fortunately, the clip hit me on the top of my very hard head. No harm done.) 

It's scary how fast your brain works when it comes to issues of identity. Within milliseconds, I was thinking stuff like this: I'm uncoordinated. I'm fat. I don't belong here. Why did I come? I should just leave. Everyone is going to think I'm a big fat idiot. The trainer thinks I'm a whiny chubbo who probably couldn't find her core if she had a map. Well guess what, he doesn't know anything about me. About how much weight I've lost and how I did a boot camp last summer that was WAY HARDER and I never fell or bonked myself on the head, yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you, NO DON'T LOOK AT ME OR ASK ME HOW I AM! ACK! Don't see me crying. Why am I crying? Oh, God, just stop crying... etc. 

I don't know how my memory can be so bad when I'm trying to remember the title of a movie or where I put my glasses, but it only takes fractions of seconds to recall exactly how I felt in junior high P.E.

So I left class this morning feeling really kind of like a piece of crap. And guess what we're doing tomorrow? Measuring. I heard him say something about scales and body fat percentages and timed laps and pushups and situps and all I could think about was the President's Physical Fitness Test and the clipboard showing me exactly how short of the mark I am. Tomorrow, I am sleeping in. It's an act of emotional self-preservation. But because I'm tough and stubborn and miss the butt I had after last year's boot camp, chances are good I'll go back Monday and pretend all of this never happened.

Tuesday, September 2

Please...know the name of your school!

I am the Queen of Embarrassing Moments. Seriously. So, here's one for your enjoyment!

Last year, I interviewed a local business owner. He was a nice older guy and he told me about his kids and how proud he was that they had attended Florida State University. He asked me, "So, where do you attend college?"

I attended the same school, so I started to say, "Why, I attend Florida State University!" Instead, I said, "I attend Tennessee State University." Um, no I don't. I moved from TN to FL five years ago and never attended college there.

I realized my mistake and I said, (I kid you not) "Oh, excuse me! I meant to say Tallahassee State University." WRONG AGAIN! Tallahassee State University doesn't even exist! What the heck?!

I managed to choke out, "Florida State U" before crawling away.

Was my brain on vacation?