Thursday, January 29

Since I promised to keep you updated...

Apologies to my TFC sisters for blogging out of turn, but so many people wanted to be kept up to date on my wedding dress conundrum, I just wanted to let you all know that I think I've decided on a new dress, check it out and read the saga here!

self-doubt - see, doubt of self

It's Anything Goes week here at TFC, and when I put out the call for topic suggestions, the lovely and talented Jo Knowles said, "I would love to hear more about what to do when self-doubt sets in." I am always equipped to talk about self-doubt, and it seems like a good way to follow up the great about overachieving, because it's all connected. 

Now, I'm assuming that Jo wants to hear about this in relation to being a writer, so that's what I'll focus on, though I also feel qualified to write about body self-doubts, intelligence self-doubts, likeability self-doubts, beauty self-doubts, friend-worthiness self-doubts, and general free-floating self-doubts. What makes writing particularly rife with self-doubts is that by its very nature writing is the practice of failure. You have your vision of whatever you're writing, and the actuality of what you're able to do with words, and rarely the twain shall meet. I could now go off on a pages-long meditation on the value of failure, but since Jo asked "what to do" I'm going to try to take a problem-solving approach. (By the way, this works for lots of issues, not just writing. Free therapy! You're welcome.)

For me, self-doubts tend to fall into one of three categories:
1. Irrational catastrophic predictions of things that haven't happened yet or things I can't control
2. Comparison disease
3. Rational, legitimate concerns that might actually have solutions

For the things in the first category, you need to learn how to be your own best friend. Imagine a close friend expressing the same anxieties and think about what you would say to him or her. Like, if a close friend said, "This book is stretching the limits of my abilities right now. I'm probably never going to finish it. I should give back my advance, change my name, and move to Wyoming before everyone finds out what a loser I am," you would not respond, "Yeah, good plan, I was gonna say." Or if a friend said, "I'm really disappointed in the performance of my book and it's not on any lists and it has an Amazon ranking of 3,987,233, therefore I'm a waste of space and will never write again," you wouldn't hand your friend an application for Wendy's and say, "Good luck in your new career." Try to show yourself at least the decency and compassion and wisdom that you'd show a friend. This may involve a lot of talking to yourself, but that's okay.

The second category is tough, and it's something we all have to deal with from grade school to our death beds. For you writers who haven't been published yet, you'd think that being published would solve this problem, wouldn't you? HA! In fact, being published opens up new vistas of insecurity, the likes of which you would not have dreamed possible. You find yourself comparing minuscule contract differences, perceived publisher support, the number of blog comments you get relative to another writer, tallying up the number of speaking engagements they get when you don't even like speaking engagements. You'll envy writers for getting awards you're not even eligible for, sales numbers you know wouldn't make sense in your genre, the parties they get invited to that you don't---even though you live 1500 miles away. There is no permanent solution for this problem. The best I can tell you is to figure out what pushes your buttons, and avoid those things. If a certain industry newsletter gives you the bends every time you see it in your inbox, unsubscribe. If a certain writer's blog always leaves you feeling irrevocably inadequate, stop reading it. (Secret: you are not required to read the blogs of everyone you ever meet. You aren't even required to read the blogs of good friends.) If Google alerts make you question your very existence, stop getting them. Admit that you are weak and avoid your weaknesses.

By now, the third category will come as a relief! Some of the things we have anxiety about are totally legit, and involve real problems we can work on solving. If you know you should be working harder, build some structure and discipline into your day. If you wish your books had more commercial appeal, or more literary appeal, read mentor texts (books by authors that do that really well) and take notes. If you're anxious because you realize you don't know much about the business, go to a conference and find out. If you feel like your book can and should be better supported by your publisher, brainstorm with your agent or editor about how that might happen. Focus on what you can control.

That's all I have, I think. Thanks, Jo, for the topic suggestion, I hope all this helps!

Sunday, January 25

Supergirl: Interviewing Debut Author Liz Funk

Today we welcome Liz Funk to TFC. Liz is the author of Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls, a nonfiction look at the pressure on young women to be perfect. SUPERGIRLS SPEAK OUT is being published in paperback by Simon and Schuster's Touchstone imprint on March 3rd and has received advance praise from Leora Tanenbaum, Janice Erlbaum, Leslie Bennetts, Robyn Schneider, Gloria Feldt, and Abby Ellin, among other well-known women writers. The book is geared towards girls between the ages of 15 and 25.

LBL: Welcome, Liz! Tell us, what is a Supergirl? Is it something people should want to be?

LF: Thanks so much for inviting me to weigh in on my book! A Supergirl is a young woman who appears to have it all—in her career, looks, friends, romances, and charm—but is secretly struggling to keep her day planner from exploding. I think a lot of Supergirls feel overstressed and often unsatisfied, so I wouldn’t really recommend aspiring to become one. I think it’s important for girls to have a healthy amount of ambition and drive, though, and I discuss how to strike that happy medium between underachieving and overachieving in my book.

LBL: Please tell us a little bit about your own professional history.

LF: I knew in high school that I wanted to be a writer. I started off thinking that I wanted to be doing screenwriting, but when I went to a fiction writing workshop taught by a writer in my town when I was in the 10th grade, I thought that I should write books instead, and I started writing long-form fiction and nonfiction, just for fun. I started writing freelance in my later years of high school for smaller newspapers and niche magazines, and I was asked to write a blog for the Times Union, a newspaper in Albany, NY. In my sophomore year of college, helped by some mentors and “Getting Your Book Published for Dummies,” I wrote the proposal for SUPERGIRLS SPEAK OUT. By my junior year of college, I decided that I really wanted to dedicate myself to writing about gender and Generation Y and social issues, and by then I had written for USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, CosmoGIRL!, Girls’ Life, the Nation, the New Humanist (a British magazine), and a lot of other cool places. Today, I’m at work still writing freelance, working to promote my book, and blogging at

LBL: Wow, that's quite a resume! How did you come to write SUPERGIRLS?

LF: I had always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect and I felt like there was always a better version of me that I could become—more successful, prettier, more desirable, at a better college, etc. etc.—and I’m pretty sure I had that impression and those self-depreciating thought patterns from the media. I had just always been thinking about these pressures on teen girls. I had read a great article in Rolling Stone in May of 2006 that talked about the women at Duke University and used the term “effortlessly perfect” and it really resonated with me, and I began noticing that many of the women around me who looked perfect were doing a lot of pretending. I wrote the proposal for SUPERGIRLS SPEAK OUT in January of 2007, and I was lucky because a story ran on the front page of the New York Times in early April that had people talking about overachieving girls trying to do everything. Two weeks later, my agent Wendy Sherman was sending out my book proposal to a few editors in New York City. It felt like the timing was right to everyone I met at Simon and Schuster, the publisher that took on my book. I’ve been working with a great editor, too, so I’m been really lucky on all counts.

LBL: What is what you refer to as "the limiting female ideal in Generation Y"?

LF: You know, I was watching “the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” on TV last night and there was this one scene for me that I thought perfectly illustrated “the limiting female ideal” so it’s funny that you should ask. In this scene in the movie, Blake Lively’s character is running on the beach with a big group and she is racing with the really cute guy who is leading the group. She is in tiny shorts and a sports bra and her skin is bronze and her hair goes all the way down her back and she looks extremely sexy; naturally, the cute boy seems interested in her. Bridget (Lively’s character) flirts with the running guy and says that she knows the guy is an athlete at Columbia and she asks him what he’s heard about her and he says, “High school. Won nationals.” And then she says something like, “MVP. I play forward…. I’m 17. Come on, I’ll race you.” So she’s beautiful, charming, and a soccer star?! Young women can’t live up to those kinds of standards! A ton of young women have girl crushes on Blake Lively and I honestly think it’s because Blake Lively represents this beautiful, charming teen girl that we all want to be, but it raises girls’ expectations for themselves in real life. Girls in real life get so caught up in wanting to look perfect all the time like this that they forget that they are allowed to have flaws and make mistakes and be awkward some of the time and have that be okay!

LBL: Is there one single thing that you feel is the greatest challenge facing young women today and, if so, what would that be?

LF: I think it’s so important for young women to find their real meaning. There’s so much pressure in youth culture to be a blonde tennis player or a pretty girl who works at the Abercrombie store, plus girls are also raised to find themselves in the reputation of the college they get into, find themselves in boyfriends, and find themselves in designer possessions; as said, we have a rather limiting female ideal in this country! So, for girls to realize why they matter outside of how they look and what they do and how long their resumes are is so important! Girls need to develop a sense of “intrinsic worth” and get to a point where they feel like they have genuine value!

LBL: We TFCers are obsessed with a variety of things, and I understand you have an obsession with hair products and television. Can you say more about that?

LF: Haha, hair products and television are probably two of my favorite things. My freshman and sophomore year of college, I dyed my hair ice blonde and it totally took a number on my hair; I used to have long, thick brown hair and it became thin and constantly breaking when it was light blonde. So now I’m a medium blonde (who only trusts salon color artists now—let that be a lesson to me!) on the hunt for the most restorative combination of shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner in the world. Some of my favorite lines are Bed Head, KMS, Aveda, and It’s a Ten. I also love television; I watch “30 Rock,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” every week. I also watch “Arrested Development” reruns on all the time. I quote “Arrested Development” at least five times a day.

LBL: What is one thing about yourself that you'd like readers to know about you?

LF: I think that a lot of young people are so creative and so ambitious, and I think that they should feel completely emboldened and unapologetic as they work to publish their writing. I started seriously writing freelance and writing SUPERGIRLS SPEAK OUT when I was 18 and although there were definitely some hurdles, I would encourage all young people to keep an eye out for subjects that they might like to become experts on and write a book proposal or articles or a novel! I think the media needs Generation Y writers and I really encourage my peers to get published!

LBL: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

LF: I guess the most important thing is, outside of teens developing a sense of intrinsic worth, is that I hope that teens become a little more privy to media literacy. I think very few young people understand that the media is really created mostly for entertainment and that it’s not meant to be a model for our lives. On TV, they have hairstylists who do magic on people’s appearances and Carrie Bradshaw is a journalist who improbably lives in a spacious one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side and the girls of “Gossip Girl” have wardrobes that cost in the four figures. It’s not real and girls shouldn’t compare their lives to what they see on TV. I think a lot of teen TV and movies raises teens’ expectations for how they’re supposed to act and look, and I think it’s more damaging than we’ll ever know.

LBL: Which YA books have you read recently that you loved?

LF: YA is honestly one of my favorite genres. Over the summer, I read I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle, and it was probably the funniest book I ever read. I was laughing out loud through the whole thing. I also like Melissa Walker’s trilogy about Violet the model, Violet by Design and so on. How to Be Bad, by Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski, and E. Lockhart was really good, too. And then I love some older stuff, like First Part Last by Angela Johnson and Twelve by Nick McDonell.

LBL: Do you have a website where readers can learn more about you and your book?

LF: My main website is Readers can check out my blog at and learn more about my book at

So there you have it folks, our interview with the lovely Liz! It was pretty thorough, I think, but please weigh in with more questions for Liz and also answer our questions of the day for you:


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, January 23

Thursday, January 22

The Most Important Fashion Decision of My Life

When I saw that I was scheduled to post during fashion week at TFC, I got a little bit intimidated. I'm totally not fashionable at all and I had no idea what I'd talk about. Then I realized, hey, the most important fashion decision of my life is coming up... I have to pick a wedding dress!!! Perhaps the TFC readers can help me out.

So my boyfriend proposed on Christmas Eve. If you're curious about all the cute little details, you can check out my blog here. I'm not planning a traditional wedding at all (and if you know me even slightly, I'm sure you're totally not shocked). So I don't want a traditional white dress. I wanted it to be my opportunity to buy a cute designer dress. I never went to prom. I've never owned any "label" dresses. I've always been a thrift store and vintage girl. Early 90s Courtney Love, the whole baby doll dress thing that's my sense of style when it comes to dressing up. Like this was pretty much my style (except I rarely wear white, more black):
Dude, if that could be my wedding dress, I'd be pretty psyched. I wasn't even really planning to go white at all though, but the babydoll style was what I was looking for. I've always adored Betsey Johnson dresses and found a black and blue one I really liked that I sent to my friend Tai asking if I could pull it off as a wedding dress. She said I totally could and then she found it in pink and black in my size on eBay for half price!!! I decided to take the risk and go for it. This is the dress I ordered:
It came today (in two days!!! I was so shocked!) and I was pleased to find that it fit, but ummmmmmmmmm it's really short! Like if I bend over, you are definitely getting a show. Now it's an October wedding so I can wear thick black tights with it, but I don't know. I took some crappy mirror pictures (I couldn't let the groom see it and take pictures, right?) and you guys can help me decide.

Here's without tights so you can see exactly how short it is (pardon my messy bedroom):
And with tights, how I would do it:

Is this okay for the totally untraditional, Courtney Love-fan bride whose getting married in an Irish pub (you can check it out here) or do I need to wear this to the bachlorette party and pick a new dress (god, but I love this dress soooooo much!) and if so, seen any dresses lately that I should check out???


Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I think adding an under layer, probably as simple as buying a slip might be the ticket!!! Pink if I can match it, but otherwise, I experimented with a black slip I had (excuse the wrinkles) and my best friend and I think it is pretty cute. So we are going to go slip shopping sometime next week. Let me know what you think about it! But also I may try gray tights (since it will be fall) or keep my eye out for other dresses since we are so far out, so keep throwing the suggestions my way, I love them!

Wednesday, January 21

Winter Fashion

This week at the Cafe, we're talking about Fashion. And since it's another blustery winter day here in Utah, I thought I'd talk about practical fashion. In other words, the fashion pieces that help keep you toasty when it's freezing outside.
Take the snow boot. The Sorel has long been a favorite of mine for when it's really cold and wet outside. Furry boots are always fun, and though I've never owned a pair, I hear they're very warm. Remember the "Chubakkah" style boots that celebs tracked through Aspen snow way back when? These days, I'm seeing a lot of sporty style snow boots, like these red and white ones by Adidias. And Uggs are still very popular, even though they're not water proof, which is something I look for. A couple of years ago, my husband bought me a pair of Skechers snow boots, and I love them. They're tall, water proof, and have faux fur accents. They do the trick: keep my feet warm and dry while looking cute.

Another must-have accessory for cold winters is the scarf. I never really wore scarves until about 4 years ago, when my mother-in-law made one for me. Now I don't know how I made it through CO and UT winters without them. I have a huge collection of scarves now, and my favorites are the handmade ones with lots of color and texture.
What are your favorite winter fashion pieces?

Thursday, January 15

So, it’s all about reading this week at the Café, and—full confession alert—I haven’t done much in the way of pleasure reading in the last . . .oh, year or so. . .

Now that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the books that I’ve read—because I have—immensely in fact. It’s more that most of them have been of the non-fiction, researchy, type, which is not quite the same as curling up with a really good story you can’t wait to sink into.

Though I was lucky enough to get an early read of Courtney Summers’s debut novel, CRACKED UP TO BE, which was so completely awesome you must go out and buy it immediately!! Seriously. My blurb did not do it justice. And, if I can ever get UNTITLED IMMORTALS BOOK #3 (catchy title, huh?!) finished, then I could finally dive into Amanda Ashby’s ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBERRY HIGH that is taunting me from the top of my TBR pile, and that I can tell just from looking must also be purchased immediately!!

So while, I’d love to compile a list of all the books I’ve loved and read in ’08, as my TBR piles (yes, they are plural now!), attest, I’m just not the woman for the job.

But maybe YOU are. In which case, if you read a lot of books, and you're a teen, then you should head on over to and cast your vote for the CBC’s Best Books of 2008, Teen Choice Book Award contest. The list of nominated titles is long and illustrious, and I’m happy to say that CRUEL SUMMER is on it!!

So make sure to visit sometime before Jan 31, and vote for your top five favorites. All you have to do to get started is click HERE.

Happy Voting Everyone!!

Enter an enchanting new world where true love never dies . . .
THE IMMORTALS, an exciting new series, in stores 02.03.09
EVERMORE- 5 Star Gold Award TeensReadToo, 4 STARS Romantic Times, TOP CHOICE AWARD-Flamingnet
BLUE MOON- 08.04.09
& three more titles in 2010

Wednesday, January 14

The challenge

I'm not really known for my new year's resolutions - unless they're along the lines of: 'let's see who can eat the most Chunky KitKats in one year' (where, my friends, the winner would be moi).

However, at the end of 2007 I realized that I'd only read 32 books for the year, which, for someone who use to easily read at least two books a week, this number was a bit of a shock. So anyway, last year's resolution was to read more and I'm pleased to say that I ended 2008 with 50 books. Still not where it used to be, but that's okay. I have kids and a writing career that I didn't have back then (plus of course a very time consuming Chunky KitKat habit to support).

I pretty much loved every book I read last year - mainly because if I don't like something then I don't finish it and it doesn't make my list, but the books that really stood out for me in 2008 were Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy - seriously awesome. Megan Crane's Names My Sisters' Call Me and PC Cast and Kristin Cast's House of Night series.

So what about everyone else? Do you ever set yourself reading challenges and what were your favorite reads of last year???

Tuesday, January 13

Must Reads.....

This week we're talking about reading..... my fave past time. So I thought I'd tell you about my 'must reads', the authors whose books I hang out for and will ALWAYS buy:

Sophie Kinsella - I've been a huge fan forever, and can't wait for her next book which is out in August.

Marian Keyes - Again I've loved her for ages, hopefully there'll be a new book out soon.

nny Vincenzi - Another long time fan of this author. New book out mid-way through the year.

Louise Bagshawe
- I've been a fan for a few years now, new book coming out soon.

These are the authors who haven't been around as long as the others but whose books I totally adore, and I know I'll be a long time fan:

Allison Brennan
- the only romantic suspense author I read. Talk about
page-turning quality wow!

ast & Kristin Cast - I'm not into vampires or paranormal as a rule, but their House of Night series is awesome - new one out soon.

Perry - I've read all three of her books, each one better than the last. An awesome author.

And let's not forget my fellow TFC authors, whose books are fabulous, and also rate up there with my other favs!!!!

What about you... who are your 'must reads'?

Saturday, January 10


Thanks, everyone for your comments! By random drawing, the winner of the DEATH BY DENIM signed ARC is:


Please drop me an email at gerb at lindagerber dot com with your mailing address and I'll get it sent off to you!

Everyone else, I'll be giving away ARCs each month on my blog until the release in May.

In the meantime, stop on by my blog before Tuesday for a chance to win Sara Zarr's SWEETHEARTS and again next Friday for two freebies - SOMETHING HAPPENED by Greg Logsted and SISTERS EIGHT #1: ANNIE'S ADVENTURES by Lauren Baratz Logsted, Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted.

Thursday, January 8

Promo Week: I Heart Daily + Contests!

Hi, everyone! Promo week gives me a chance to talk about my new venture, I Heart Daily. It's basically a daily newsletter of things my friend Anne and I think are cool. So far, we've covered a teen drummer, our favorite new break-up song, an eco-friendly font and--of course--some great January reads. If you like what you see, sign up for the newsletter here (next month we start giving away the things we feature to subscribers--this is one contest you shouldn't miss!). Spread the word with widgets and whatnot, if you're feeling it.

In other promo news, I have a new book coming out in May, and there's the cover ---->! Read the behind-the-scenes Cover Story on my blog.

Also, I'm giving away a *signed* copy of Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied, which is my new favorite book. Well, my new new favorite book anyway--it's fantastic. Go here to enter.

And, I'm giving away a copy of any one Violet book at Alexa Young's blog, in honor of her Faketastic release week!

So, that's a lot to inhale, huh? Go sign up for I Heart Daily and then enter both contests if you've got the time! And, in the comments, what do YOU want to promote this week? Let's have a promo party!

Tuesday, January 6


It's promo week at Teen Fiction Cafe so I'm here for some BSP!

I'd like to introduce you to DEATH BY DENIM, which will hit the shelves in May. DEATH BY DENIM picks up where DEATH BY LATTE left off, taking Aphra to France and Italy on an international adventure.

I'm happy to report that the early reviews are great. Flamingnet Book Reviews even selected it for the Top Choice award!

To celebrate, I'm offering a signed ARC DEATH BY DENIM to one lucky TFC reader. For your chance to win, leave a comment below describing your favorite French or Italian food.

This contest will remain open until Saturday, January 10.

Friday, January 2

Revolutionary Road

I'm not into the new smaller-sized printing of Revolutionary Road with the movie cover--those special editions bother me when the original covers are so striking. But the book, by Richard Yates, is the same inside, of course. And it's glorious.

Last fall, I was sad because the second fantastic season of Mad Men was over, and someone suggested I pick up the novel that inspired parts of the show. "Which novel is that?" I asked.

I've long been obsessed with the time period around the 50s and 60s--the glamorous dresses, crystal decanters, silver cigarette cases and perfectly curled coifs. And all this gloss meets intense racial strife and huge questions about women's rights and the changing American society. It's a fascinating time. Revolutionary Road is not a cheery book, but it is a beautiful one.

Plus, it's the vehicle that's reuniting Leo and Kate! Yes, I'm one of those crazies who saw Titanic more than once in the theater. I can't wait for this one. A preview, plus a look at two more of the book's covers, below:

So, anyone going to see it? (It gets way more dramatic, btw, I just wanted to show a sweet, if slightly ominous, clip.)

PS-Since it's movie week, I'll point you guys to my blog, where I'm giving away 3 copies of AMERICAN TEEN on DVD this week (contest ends Weds 1/7).