Monday, March 30

Win a zombie survival kit and a copy of my latest book

So it's promo week here at Teen Fiction Cafe and partly to celebrate the recent release of my young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High and partly to make up for the fact that I've been such a slacker and have missed my last scheduled posts here at the cafe, I've decided to put a copy of my new book up for grabs.

But wait, there's more. As well as the book you can also win an essential (and totally cute) Zombie Survival Kit which guarantees to give you everything you will ever need in the upcoming zombie apocalypse - okay, so if I figure on the slim chance it doesn't work, you'll already be eaten and can't come and get mad at me and besides, I will work, it will, it will!!!!

So what's my new book about you ask?

Well to put simply, it's the story of what happens when seventeen year old Mia Everett tries to stop her prom date from dumping her and instead (accidentally) turns her entire senior year (including teachers) into flesh-chomping zombies and then has to work with zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller in order to find a cure before Mia ends up as first course on their new meat-only diet.

So anyway, what do you have to do to win this amazing (and totally cute) prize? Well, for a start you need to go to go and buy my book and tell me what color blouse Mia is wearing on page 54. And then you need to...okay, I joke, I joke.

All you really need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me why you want to read my book and get your hands on the Zombie Survival Kit (and extra points for anyone who manages to combine David Boreanaz into their answer!). Go on, I dare you!!!

And don't forget to come back on Saturday when I'll draw a winner!

Wednesday, March 25

what not to wear?

I'll be the first to admit that I was something of a fashion disaster when I was in my twenties. It was the nineties, and I fully embraced the whole stretchy-pants or tapered pants/giant shirt look, which did nothing for my body other than to make it look more round and square than it actually was. In my thirties, I lost some weight and had more options but wasn't quite sure what to do. Somewhere along the way I found the TLC show What Not to Wear, and learned a lot from our friends Stacy and Clinton. Like the power of a structured jacket, or deserving to look cute at any size. And the importance of fit, and that neutrals go with everything, and contrast is better than matchy-match.

I obsessively watched this show for about three seasons, and would even watch marathons of episodes I'd already seen! ("Oh, I love this one. Her hair ends up really rockin'...") Then, somewhere along the way, the show soured for me. Maybe it was Stacy's refusal to believe that some people actually do have foot problems that keep them from 99% of cute shoes. Or the way everyone on the show ended up looking kind of the same. Or the episodes (rare, I admit) in which I felt like the makeover killed something fundamentally joyful and right about the person. What is SO WRONG with having a funky sock collection? Life is short, and getting shorter by the second. If a skull and crossbone scarf makes you happy, you should wear it.

A bunch of my structured jackets and cute heels went into the giveaway bag, as I admitted I was never wearing them and when I did, I didn't feel like me. Now, I guess I have a uniform, and that uniform is jeans, and my comfy ecco sneakers, and some kind of upper-body coverage. Last month, I actually went to the grocery store in my pajamas and snow boots, which is a total WNTW mortal sin.

I do dress a lot better than I did 10 years ago, and work harder at looking my best on a daily basis. But, the older I get, the less I tolerate other people telling me how I should look or act. WNTW is like anything else...just a tool. Maybe you'll learn some stuff you can apply to your own life. Maybe not. No amount of "Shut Up!"s from Stacy are worth not feeling like you.

Tuesday, March 24

Is "The Diva" the Universal Jean?

Last month, I was in Utah and I got to meet up for breakfast with fellow TFC ladies Sara Zarr and Wendy Toliver in Salt Lake City. Obviously, it was super fun.

And then we went shopping.

Wendy had read that Old Navy's "Diva" jean could fit all body types, that it was a magical Traveling Pants type of situation. So the three of us decided to try it on:

That's Sara, me and Wendy, left to right. Same jean style. We did not find it created equal, though Sara did pick up this pair, so it was a win for one of us.

And, actually, the original goal of our Old Navy stop was to find Sara's favorite jeans of all time, the Sweetheart jeans (I kid you not). She bought a couple of pairs, and I bought a pair too, because they fit so well and they cost... wait for it... $19!! And even though Wendy didn't buy a pair of jeans, she looked good in everything she tried on.

The lesson here on TFC's Fashion Week is that Old Navy has something for everyone. And some kickass prices.

Monday, March 23

Happy Pub Date to Me!

The Sisters Eight, Book 3: Georgia's Greatness goes on sale today. Please tell anyone you know with 6- to 10-year-olds who love to read!

It all began with Annie's Adventures, of which Kirkus said, "BaratzLogsted's tales of thrills, suspense and hijinks should satisfy adventureseeking young readers."
The fun continued in Durinda's Dangers, of which TeensReadToo said: "The story keeps getting better and I love how funny and witty the books are. The sisters are a fun, eccentric family, and I wish I could spend a day with them."
And now there's Georgia's Greatness, and once again Kirkus is happy: "This strong follow-up leaves the Sisters 8 and readers poised and eager for their next adventure."

This is the series I created with my YA novelist husband Greg Logsted and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie.

Here's what the cover copy of Georgia's Greatness says:

The Sisters Eight are back in a new adventure! This time, Georgia gets her chance to be the hero—if she doesn't completely mess things up!In the first two installments of the Sisters Eight, we met the sisters (octuplets) and their eight cats. We discovered Mommy and Daddy disappeared (or died) and that to find out what happened to them, each girl must discover her power and gift. Annie and Durinda both found theirs. We also learned that the girls' nosy neighbor The Wicket is very interested in what Mommy was working on before she disappeared (or died). In this, the third book, the plot thickens: Mrs. McGullicudy, the girls' teacher, is AWOL, and the substitute teacher is too beautiful to be believed (in your narrator's humble opinion.) Does her beautiful facade hide an evil soul? (These are books. Of course it does.) And Georgia makes a blunder that could keep the girls' from ever finding their parents. Are the Sisters Eight doomed to live alone forever?

Each book is simultaneously published in hardcover and paperback. I hope you'll consider buying a copy for a child you love and helping to spread the word about The Sisters Eight.

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Sunday, March 22


It's easy to spot a fashion faux pas on someone else.

Much less so on yourself.

Do a Google search under Images for "fashion don'ts," and it's amazing how many of the top hits are of Britney Spears, followed by Lindsay Lohan. I've committed my fair share of "don'ts" in my life, so why aren't I so famous?

Some faux pas are immediately apparent, like Ugly Betty, but some only become clear with the passage of time. A friend of mine from Costa Rica was married in the '70s. In his wedding picture, he's wearing an all-white suit with enough gold chains to buy a small country. I'll bet it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in time, no doubt it became something for the kids to laugh at. Then there was the cousin, who also got married in the '70s, who thought that brown and peach made the perfect color scheme. It was a large wedding party, the men all in brown tuxes with peach ruffled shirts, the woman all in peach. Hard to imagine any time when that seemed like a good idea, but there you have it.

[As always, my uploading images have gone all kablooey on me - ah, well!]

And then there's me.

Back in my bookseller days, I went through a very thin period where I could wear almost anything, and did. Unfortunately, "could" and "should" are two very different animals. There was this one...outfit for want of a better word. The short-sleeved top was white with navy sleeves and on the front was a sequined picture of Rosie the Riveter with the slogan "We can do it!" The matching flounced mini skirt was navy with white trim on which was another "We can do it!" patch along with several peppy slogans. And somehow I'd gotten it into my head that I could pair this with red stilleto pumps. Yes, I even looked in the mirror that morning, and yet I still went out into the world this way. What was I thinking of???

Well, clearly, I wasn't thinking, although I should have been. When you're 4'11, you usually try to avoid cute at all costs, while this outfit was just so so so... Five minutes into my workday, the error of my fashion ways came home to me. The elderly Dutch woman who worked one department over - and whose own idea of daily fashion included a long gray braid tied around her head like a crown, twin sets, long tweed skirts and clogs with knee socks - came up to me and pronounced, in all sincerity, "Now *that's* the way to dress!"

Oh, s___.

I hadn't committed a fashion faux pas that would only become apparent with the passage of time. I'd committed an immediate fashion faux pas! Worse, I lived thirty-five minutes away and couldn't go home to change. Double worse, I was going out to shoot pool with my girlfriend right after work that night. So not only would an elderly Dutch woman be seeing me like this, but so would nearly everyone who mattered in my world.

If you're going to wear it, wear it proudly - sounds like good advice, doesn't it? But even adopting a proud approach didn't help as I sauntered into the pool bar that night. It's kind of hard to look proud when you look like a combination of "Betty Boop meets Minnie Mouse meets World War II." Really, the top itself would have been fine with jeans. The shoes would have been fine with almost anything else. (That mini skirt would never be fine with anything.) My friend's reaction? She started laughing as soon as she set eyes on me and I don't think she stopped all night. I finally promised that when I died I'd write it into my will that she was to be bequeathed the whole outfit. She thanked me and started laughing again. When I got home that night, I retired the skirt to the bottom of my closet. Oh, yeah. "We can do it!"

So now it's your turn.


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Saturday, March 21

Anything Goes: Wish Fulfillment

It's "Anything Goes" week at the TFC, so I'm going totally random. As I'm sure a lot of you know, I'm getting married this fall. Part of the fun of getting married is you get to register places for people to give you presents! 

Yesterday, my fiance Scott and I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to register. The women who helped us told us, "Pretend you're a kid making out your Christmas list and Santa is going to bring all this stuff to you."

When I was a kid I used to love it when the Sears Wish Book catalog come out every year and I could go through folding over pages and starring items that I wanted my parents to get for me for the holidays. Of course, at the top of my list, were always two impossible items:
1. A horse (yeah, like, we could ever afford that)
2. Giant trampoline (our backyard was not big enough for one of those, plus, again they are pretty pricey)

Nowadays at the top of my wishlist I'd put Toyota Prius instead of horse (though my car-loving fiance tells me to wait til the new Honda hybrid comes out that I'll love it even more than a Prius), but it is as much a fantasy as horse and giant trampoline, since I could neither afford a Prius and I don't have any room to house it. (We have one parking spot and Scott's car lives there. Actually I think "house with backyard and two car garage" might be the real top of my wishlist or else "pay my mortgage for me.") I'm usually at a complete loss when my family or Scott asks me what I want for Christmas or my birthday because there isn't really the Sears catalog equivalent for grown-ups. Mostly I just ask for money or giftcards so I can pay bills, buy new shoes, save for a much-needed vacation, or get a book or CD here and there. But as it turns out wedding registration is like the Sears catalog from grown-ups! 

Scott and I totally went as nuts as we would have as kids. The saleslady assisting us talked us into registering for 90$/place setting china (after finding us suitable china since I'm vegan and bone china is really made from bones so it is not) and $30/glass goblets and champagne flutes. Oooh pretty, sure why not? Then we ran around the store scanning towels and sheets and blankets and photo frames and vacuum cleaners and crockpots.... We spent 3 hours total in the store, pouring over stuff like my brother and I used to pour over the Sears catalog.

But once we got in the car, reality set in. There is no Santa Claus. There isn't even some rich relative who is gonna drop a grand on us to get us fancy china. Neither of us come from money and it's a recession and seriously when are we going to throw a 12-person dinner party? And where? On our four person table? What if someone buys us the silly china instead of the much needed microwave? If someone is going to drop a ton of a cash on us, I'd rather have the cool Cuisinart mixer with the pasta making, juicer, blender and food processor attachments because, you know, I'd actually use that at least a few times a month. Or even better than that, I'd rather they buy us the regular dishes we asked for so we can have a matching set instead of the combination of plates from Target, plates from my childhood, plates inheirited from my dead grandpa, and the plate I stole from the Antioch cafeteria.

So we came home and deleted the china and uber fancy stuff. But what I'm super upset about is that the saleslady showed us the 10 piece set of pots that I adored and I thought it would show up on the registery by piece, but no, it shows up as a 600$ set, which again, no one in our family is going to be able to afford to buy us, nor would I want them to, that would just make me feel terribly guilty. And yet, the thing I want right now more than a Prius, a pony, a new house, a trampoline and maybe even a vacation is these pots. In the past four years I've gotten so into cooking that good cookware, it really would be the best thing in the world. I kind of feel lame admitting that. I kind of feel like it shows that I'm turning 30 this summer and really turning into a grown-up. But I don't care, I just want nice pots!

So um, if you happen to know about pots and pans, and can suggest some good ones from Bed Bath and Beyond that I can add to my wedding registry individually, I'd be thrilled. But otherwise just tell me, what is the one item you are wishing for most in the world right now?

Friday, March 20

Brownie Randomness

Recently I asked a very random question on Facebook and Twitter. You see, I was making brownies from a box yesterday. (Had a total sweet tooth moment.) And I always get a kick out of the directions that state:

"Stir about 50 strokes with a spoon."


So I asked on my status: "Do people really count out the 50 stir strokes instructed on a brownie mix box?"

And mostly everyone said YES!

Yes, they actually count the strokes.

Other random answers included, yes, but it always takes more than 50 strokes, or yes, when you have OCD like me, etc.

So I need further research just to appease my curious mind because you see, I'm a random stirrer. I stir the batter and when it looks mixed, I'm happy and dump it in the pot to bake.

So that's my question TFCers!

How do you stir your brownie mix?

a) Yep, I stir and count out the 50 strokes
b) Heck no, I stir till it looks good
c) Brownies in the box!!?? I'm a bake from scratch peep all the way!
d) Um, I don't eat brownies...
e) other...

Monday, March 16

Guest Blogger: An Interview with Wendy Toliver!

Hi TFC gang! This pensive-looking blogger at left is a Guest Blogger. The daughter of Erica Orloff, she is an aspiring author and filmmaker, and she interviewed the fantastic YA author Wendy Toliver about her life, her books, her inspirations. We'll call our guest blogger "Blogger BG" (her mom calls her Baby Girl on her own blog), and Blogger BG will drop by later to chat with anyone about their favorite YA reads. For now . . . the interview.

There are so many authors in the world, but I wanted someone who my mom knew and was a teen writer. I chose Wendy Toliver. She is a teen writer who lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband, three sons, two dogs, one cat, and one crab. (That's her on the ski lift!) There were so many questions to ask her, but of course I could only ask ten.

My first question was my favorite. What is your inspiration for writing? She replied, “I’m easily inspired by the weather and scenery. I live in the mountains, and whenever I need a creative boost I just look out my window or go on a little walk.”

Wendy has had some interesting jobs like being Marilyn Monroe for singing telegrams to acting like a computer nerd at an ad agency!

That brings me to my next question! What is your favorite part about being an author? She told me she has two favorite parts. “First of all, writing is something I love to do, and it’s a job that allows me to stay at home with my three sons. Secondly, I love hearing from my readers and knowing that in even a very small way, my work has made a difference in their lives.”

Well, this made me think…What made you want to be an author? Wendy said, “I’ve always enjoyed writing, but most of my background is in the journalism and advertising realms. I can’t really say what exactly made me think, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll write a novel,’ but I think it had to do with getting hired to write some non-fiction books and believing that some of my own life experiences would make funny stories. I was quite old--almost 30 -- Before I wrote my first manuscript.”

Like I said there are so many authors in the world, but there are more books! My favorite book is Fake Boyfriend by Kate Brian. So I asked Ms.Toliver what was her favorite book in elementary school. Her reply was, “Good question! The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards.” I didn’t know what a Whangdoodle was so I looked it up. Did you know that it’s a fanciful creature of undefined nature?

It’s hard to pick favorites isn’t it, but I put Wendy in the corner and asked what is your favorite book you’ve written and why? She said, “All my books are very special to me so it’s really hard to choose a favorite. However, I’m really excited about my latest book, Lifted, because it’s such a departure from the romantic comedies I’ve written so far. This one is edgier and deeper and I
hope readers will enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. (It comes out in about a year.)”

I asked what her favorite part about writing was so now I must ask her the worst part about writing. She told me, “Though I’m getting better at this, it’s very hard to hear someone say what you’ve written isn’t good.”

There are genres in practically everything: movies, people, animals, and books. That is why I asked what her favorite genre was. She told me, “It might be easier for me to tell you what genres I don’t care for. As a whole, science fiction, war-centric, and westerns don’t thrill me.”

All authors are very surprised when their first book comes out. Kind of like it’s not real. It may be weird to see your name on a book at a bookstore, but you get used to it after your third or fourth book. So now I asked Wendy…What was it like when your first book sold? She said, “I kind of walked around in a daze for a while, trying to let it soak in. I was really excited to tell my family. They took me out to dinner at a delicious Japanese restaurant.”

Teenagers love reading Wendy’s amazing books! They seem to be inspirational and funny to them. The next question I asked was …. Why do you like to write for teens/kids? She said, “I like writing for teenagers because I really enjoyed that period of my life. Your whole future is ahead of you; from family life to career to where you are going to settle down (or not) and live….It’s really a magical, mysterious, exciting time. Another thing I love about writing for teens is I’ve found that they aren’t about writing me emails or letters. Teen readers make the best of fans!”

I wonder what book Wendy is working on next. Well, that was my last question! She replied, “I’m working on a book called Lifted, which comes out in about a year. It’s about a group of Baptist school girls who have a shoplifting clique. I’m also working on some proposals for future books. Never dull moment!”

Wendy sounds like a very inspirational person! Someday when I become a famous author I would love to meet her. Perhaps go skiing; it’s one of her favorite activities to do! She is a great author. You should buy her new book Miss Match by Wendy Toliver!

So there you go! Run, don't walk, to buy Wendy's books. And share your thoughts on some of your favorite reads . . . and inspirations. What do you do when you need to be creatively inspired?

Sunday, March 15

Movie Recommendations?

This week we've been talking about movies on TFC, and I have to admit - I haven't seen any lately! In fact, the last first-run movie I saw was over Christmas break. I feel completely out of touch! I don't even have trailers to go by to tell me what to look forward to.

Long story short, I had an overseas trip for a possible international move (postponed), a rash of school visits (yay!), and a looming deadline (done!) meant no theater time for me the past couple of months or so.

Now that the manuscript is turned in and I'm ready to play catch up, I need your help! For a budget-conscious movie-goer who wants to choose the best flicks to spend her money on, what would you recommend? What movies are coming up that you really want to see?

P.S. The Wearing o' The Green contest continues on my blog. Get your photos to me by Monday to enter!

Friday, March 13


It’s movie week here at The Café and I have to admit that I purposely delayed posting because I was pretty sure that yesterday was going to be a designated “movie day” which would provide all the content I need for my post today.

Only, it didn’t happen. At the very last moment, “movie day” became “race track day” only to arrive at Santa Anita far too late, which then turned “race track day” into “shopping/dinner day,” which, was probably kinder to my closet than to this blog.

But then, when I woke up this morning, I noticed this:

And it got me thinking about ENDURANCE.

But first, a little background.

My husband has leukemia—though it is currently in a state of remission so deep it's undetectable. Still, every three months we trek to the City of Hope for an update on his latest bloodwork and a talk with his amazing doctor, and, since it really is a bit of a drive to get there from our house, we take the remainder of the day to do something fun like this, or this, or even this, but more often than not, we do this.

But since none of those things seemed to be working out, we put our focus on dinner instead, ending up at La Vie En Rose, a place I hadn’t visited in over two decades and that hadn’t changed much since (and I mean that in a good way).

So, this morning, after eating in a restaurant that soldiers on in a business known for its rapid turnover--after waking up with a husband who is now stronger and healthier than ever, despite an illness that nearly claimed him--after seeing my orchid in bloom despite my frequent failure to so much as water it--I thought about last week, when I was surfing through a bazillion television channels, looking for one thing that might interest me, when I saw that FARGO had just started, and I immediately tuned in—ultimately enjoying it as much as I did all the other times I’d watched it.

And that's because like my husband, La Vie en Rose, and my faithful orchid—FARGO endures.

Which movies endure for you??

Saturday, March 7

School Days (Late!): BFFs

I missed my slot for posting about School Days because, well, I flaked. But I've been thinking a lot about high school times lately because I just went on a trip with three best friends from high school:

Kara, Anna, Ruthie and I have known each other forever (that's me in the coral shirt; we're in front of the grounds to Hearst Castle on California's Central Coast). Sometimes school days yield lifelong friends... who know you better than anyone.

So I wonder: Are there people from high school you keep in touch with, or plan to?

Friday, March 6

Spoilt for choice!!!

This week we're talking about movies.... my favorite subject. I LOVE going to the movies, and if I find one I love I watch it over and over.

At the moment there are some awesome movies out there. I've just been to see Slum Dog Millionaire. WOW, it so totally deserved the Oscar.

I'm also hanging out to see Confessions of a Shopoholic. I am a huge Sophie Kinsella fan and can't wait to see how her book translates to the screen.

Another movie I'm desperate to see is Marley and Me. We have a Lab, in fact we've always had Labs and so have my parents. They are without question my favorite dogs, so I just know this movie is going to be fab (and I know I'll need the tissues!!!)

What about you, what are you watching at the moment?