Monday, August 31

Back to high school...Blatant honesty

As adults it's easy to stand back and view high school as something we are no long apart of. Something foreign and scary. Were we ever that young and carefree? Did we really do all that stuff? How the heck did we survive?? Hundreds of teenagers we don't know, cramming the halls, slamming lockers, cussing to their friends and enemies, complaining about teachers and parents. Acting like life's a beach and then you a wave.

But as authors for teens, it takes a certain something for us to step back into the chaos of high school. We can't just describe high school so plainly with what we think teens see through their eyes. We have to add what they could be feeling and we have to make it believable.

Sometimes I have to remember back to my days in high school just to reconnect with the YA reader. What I did day after day, weekend after weekend. How we talked and what we said. How I felt about this person and what it meant.

High school was often chaotic, filled with classes I had to take, not that I wanted to take. Teachers that made me feel uncomfortable. Only able to breathe when I was with my closest friends. Hanging out at parties I never had fun at all because everyone else was there and I didn't want to miss something.

High school was blatant honesty shoved down a teenager's throat.


So what's my point?

I like to try and write that into my books.


Sunday, August 30

Farewell, Summer

Since most kids around here are back in school now, it's only natural to mourn the lazy days of summer. Except, for many of us, summer is anything but lazy.

Early on, we had a family reunion (on our own turf so no traveling involved, except to and fro the airport), and then Matt (my husband) and I went to New Orleans. I learned a lot about New Orleans culture while there and though I was horribly ill, I had a great time.

I also learned two new sports this summer: wakeboarding and mountain biking. I feel pretty good about wakeboarding, and I can do a 180 and am working towards jumping the entire wake. And as an added bonus, I became an excellent drive-the-boat-onto-the-trailer person.

Mountain biking is another story. I only went once, and my right leg was one big bruise, and I don't even have a cool crash and burn story to share. (I bruise easily.) Maybe once I heal I'll give it another go.

Sooooo, what are YOUR favorite things to do in the summer time? What are you going to miss about summer?

Friday, August 21

More GNF!!!

Huge Congrats to the awesomely talented Melissa Walker and her new book deal (see below)!!!!

My good news for the week involves this:

The new cover for SHADOWLAND!!!

Oh, and the new release date for SHADOWLAND:

November 24, 2009

And the fact that it'll be in hardcover!!

What about YOU??? Any good news to share?

Thursday, August 20

Good News Friday: New Books to Write!

The news is out, but I had to make it official by throwing some confetti on TFC!

Melissa Walker's SMALL TOWN SINNERS, the story of a small town girl who is excited to star in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, until a childhood friend reappears and makes her question her faith, to Caroline Abbey at Bloomsbury Children's, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Douglas Stewart at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).

I'm pscyhed! Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 19

the boyfriends who never were...

At the risk of making myself sound SUPER OLD, I just celebrated my 19th anniversary. How is this possible, you ask, when I am still so fresh and dewy? A) I drink lots of water, B) I use moisturizer with sunscreen, and C) I got married at 19 to a man I met when I was 16. So you can probably guess there was not a looonnnngg dating life, to say the least. Nonetheless, I did manage to work in some romantic dramas and one actual going-steady (for one month) boyfriend before I met The One. Most of all there were the Boys Who Might Have Been, but for various reasons, weren't. Here were a few of the landmarks:

Let's Call Him Pete: Sixth grade. Someone said, "Pete wants to go with you." "Oh." Then Pete and a few friends cornered me near some lockers and said, "You're going with Pete." And I said, "I don't want to." And then they walked away. Ah, sixth grade!

Let's Call Him The Senior: When I was a freshman in high school, I had a killing crush on The Senior. He was totally tall, and sweet, and didn't seem to have a girlfriend. We were in the school play. A bunch of junior and senior girls knew I had a crush on The Senior and thought it was cute and tried to manipulate something into happening despite my protests. One day at rehearsal I was helping him do his Spanish homework, and he said, "Would you like to come to my grandmother's house for dinner?" Me: "YES!" Him: "Oh, no, that's the sentence I have to say in Spanish." In the end, he did ask me to the winter dance, a situation that I'm sure was helped along by the junior girls. The day of the dance...HE WAS NOT AT SCHOOL! As you well know, if you expect to go to the dance, you darn well better show up to school. My mother called me at school. So I'm in the school office, receiving a call from my mother telling me that The Senior's mother called her, and TS has mono. Mono! Of course I'm thinking, "Riiiight. He totally made that up to get out of going to the dance with me." And I cried all day. But then he didn't come to school for like a month, and I guess that would be a lot to go through to avoid me. We had a make-up date going to the ballet with my sister chaperoning, but apparently no sparks were flying for him. Well, maybe between him and my sister.

Let's Call Him JJ: He was a sophomore, I was a junior. We hit it off and hung out ALL THE TIME. Basically we were best friends that year and played hooky a couple of times in my 78 Datsun, driving off to Ocean Beach to smoke* and listen to music. Between the school plays and community theater and hanging out, we had a lot of adventures. I met my future husband around this time, too, and JJ got a girlfriend and we drifted apart. Later I found out that JJ liked me In That Way at least for part of our friendship. We did have a joking deal that if neither of us were married by the time we were 30, we'd marry each other, but I hadn't realized there was more there. (Also, why did we think 30 was so old?) My friendship with JJ remains one of the highlights of my non-adult life. [Edited to add something I just remembered: he was the first male and non-family member to tell me I was beautiful. That moment has always stuck with me.]

Let's Call Him Echo: Makeout session at a cast party. The end.

So I guess all of these guys could have been my boyfriends, but life always stepped in. It's a good thing, too, because I couldn't have handled the breakups. How about you and the almosts? Regrets or relief?


Tuesday, August 18

Best Friends and First Loves

My high school boyfriend Max and I dated for 2 1/2 years, from ages 17-19, broke up and didn't speak for 12 months, and then came back together to dance around each other for a few years more before settling into a comfortable friendship. At this point, he's one of my best friends and favorite people in the world.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I suspect it's because--beyond having that rush of first high school love together--we really, really liked each other as friends. He's hilarious, and smart and extra tall. We grew up in the same town; we know each other like we know ourselves.

This isn't the most flattering photo of either of us (and he will officially kill me if he sees this post), but here's a shot of us dancing at my wedding last month. The song: Peter Cetera's GLORY OF LOVE. Ha!

My high school self, who cried all night when he left for college, would be thrilled at the way we're best friends today. Have you guys kept any past loves in your life successfully, or do you plan to? If you'd asked me at 17, I would have said, "I hope so."

Monday, August 17

Soul Mates

I was never a rabid Sex and the City fan, but I do recall one episode when Carrie wonders . . . is it the girlfriends in our lives who are our soulmates?

I've had some great boyfriends, and not so great ones. I've had those crazy, insane loves . . . and a gut-wrenching divorce. Ups and downs and ins and outs . . . the men in my life have been an assortment of different types.

But my best girlfriend . . . she's been there forever, it seems.

She is the one who can finish my sentences. She's the one who somehow manages to find the perfect gift for me--the thoughtful one no one else will have come up with (such as an anniversary edition of The Little Prince, my favorite book).

She's the one I called when I woke up the night before my daughter's seventh birthday party in agonizing pain from Crohn's disease . . . and the one I swore to secrecy because I didn't want my daughter to remember her seventh birthday as the one Mommy had to cancel . . . and my best friend was the one who came and THREW the party for 12 little girls and painted their nails and did crafts with them because I couldn't get out of bed. And then she was the one who made sure I went to the hospital when it was all over.

She's the one who makes me laugh and the one who gets to listen to me cry on those very rare occasions. She's the one I send pictures of my latest celebrity crush to.

She's my soul mate. She gets me like no one else. It doesn't necessarily make sense. I have four kids, she has none and has never married. She has had blue hair, red hair, platinum hair, pink hair, fuscia . . . I held her hand when she pierced her nose last year. Our lives are very different. I'm not sure what she sees in me--I guess I'd have to ask her. I've taught her how to play poker and I know I make her laugh. And my parents say she is their 4th daughter.

Somehow . . . it works, this friendship.

But then . . . that's the point of soul mates anyway. You don't get to pick them. The Universe does it for you.

So . . . who's your best friend? And what makes that friendship so special?

Friday, August 14

Good news Friday

Hooray, I'm so happy about my latest book deal!!!!! I've been playing with this idea for ages but it took a few goes to get right and then my editor suggested we try and turn it into a series, which as you can imagine, I'm more than delighted about! Anyway, here is the publisher's marketplace announcement:

Amanda Ashby's untitled middle-grade series about a girl who accidentally gets turned into a djinn (genie) the day before starting sixth grade and has to learn to deal with her new powers without her mom finding out, to Karen Chaplin at Puffin, in a three-book deal, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (world English).

The three books will be coming out between 2011 and 2012 and I also have another young adult book coming out in 2011 so it looks like I'm going to be a busy writer!!!!

Thursday, August 13

In The News: Fewer Summer Jobs for Teens. Bummer.

Joblessness is a big bummer. I feel lucky every day to be a writer who still gets paid to write. Phew! I hadn't landed that coveted movie theater job at 16, I'm not sure how I'd have spent my coming-of-age summers, which is why the news about teens not being able to get jobs makes me sad.

I heard about Odd Job Nation this week from a guest poster on I Heart Daily and author of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today. Cindy Morand, 20, endorses the site, saying, "The jobs are eccentric and usually one-offs, like singing a tune for $50 or playing against 'the foosball master' at someone’s office, or helping cut a tree. But having someone to pay you to do these things for an hour or two is not a bad job at all, right?"

Not bad, indeed! I'm all for these new adventures. Kinda makes me want to add to my day job.

Did you guys have teen summer jobs? What were they?!

In the News: Miley Cyrus, Pole-Dancer

You've all heard the news by now, I'm sure. Miley Cyrus, star of "Hannah Montana," has gone to hell in a handbasket, or at least atop an ice-cream cart. TV newscasters and online bloggers are all atwitter over her appearance at the Teen Choice Awards, where she danced with a pole. Just what kind of a role model is she anyway???

I don't know about you, but I'm just not feeling the outrage.

There's a political humorist named Bill Maher. Know the guy? I run hot and cold on him. Sometimes I think he's right on the money. Other times I think he's just annoying. But one phrase he uses that's always stuck with me is "fake outrage," which to me represents the idea of people acting outwardly more upset about things than they really are just so they can make some noise about something; and I'd extend it further to include getting worked up about things that simply aren't worth getting worked up about as a distraction from the really important issues of the day.

Hey, I have a nine-year-old daughter who likes Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. But as far as I'm concerned, so long as the actual show is age-appropriate, I don't really care what Ms. Cyrus does with the rest of her career. And anyway, to me, I don't even have a problem with the purported "pole-dancing." I mean, come on, people: she's fully clothed...and the pole is on top of an ice-cream cart!!! Really, this is not what I think of pole-dancing, which, by my definition, involves a woman in pasties and g-string at a place called Crazy Vin's, vomit-stained floor optional.

And really, about that pole, or any other rigid column-shaped object: Did you know such things are very useful if you feel like doing the kind of dance that might work best with a partner but there either isn't one around or for some reason you just feel like going it alone? Back in my college days, which were also the barely post-disco days, I used to engage in an activity I called post-dancing, using the frame of the door to my dorm room as a partner. I swear, that frame was the perfect partner. It never spun me out too strongly. And me being incredibly short, there was never the embarrassment I occasionally suffered when dancing with someone incredibly tall of being pulled in close so that I was practically on an eye or mouth level with...

Yes, well.

Me, I'm thinking Miley just stole my idea!

I'm also thinking I don't expect any actress or musician or anyone else to be a role model for my kid. It's my job to teach her how to behave in this world and to further teach her that we are all of us mere human beings, each with our weaknesses and flaws, including Miley Cyrus and including me, perfect as I am and perfect as my post-dancing may be.

So how about you?


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Sunday, August 9


As we're all about books, movies, TV and music this week I thought I'd ask you what you thought about books being adapted into movies or TV series.

I LOVE them (well, most of them). I mean who's going to forget Colin Firth as Mr Darcy coming out of the lake in that white shirt (even if it didn't feature in the book)?

And what's not to love about all the Harry Potter movies?

Years ago I remember watching the first part of an adaptation of Rebecca (which I hadn't read) and rushing out to buy the book because I couldn't wait until the following week to see what happened.

I'm never sure whether I'd rather read a book first or see the adaptation first. If I read the book and I have an image of a character in my head and it's not the same in the movie then it bothers me. If I watch something then I automatically see that person when I read the book... then I get bothered if the movie/series isn't the same as the book (which it invariably isn't).

So what about you.... which are your favorites adaptations and do you prefer to read the book first or second?

Thursday, August 6

Movie week-John Hughes

I was going to blog about the movies I'm looking forward to seeing, but then, I heard the news that John Hughes passed away today. Hughes was an incredibly talented writer, director and producer of some of my generations best movies. I am leaving you with a pictorial of some of his work. It speaks for itself.

And many, many more. What was your favorite John Hughes movie?

Monday, August 3

Mooooovies... how I love ya, how I love ya...

So I actually went to a movie theater this weekend and saw a movie. For many of you, this may not seem like a big deal. But this is the first movie I've seen in a theater in 2009. A major red letter day on the Cassidy calendar!

The hubster and I saw Harry Potter 6 with my brother and sister-in-law. We chatted on our way out about things that were different than the book, of course, but I can't even fathom trying to condense that enormous book down into 2-1/2 hours of screen time. I think they did an admirable job.

As the reviews went by, I realized there are more movies I really want to see, some out now and some coming soon. Here are my top five:

** The Proposal
** My Sister's Keeper
** Julie and Julia
** Sherlock Holmes
** Where the Wild Things Are

What say you about these movies? Are they worth the $19 to see them in the theater or should we wait and nab them on Netflix?

And what about you? What movies are you looking forward to seeing?