Wednesday, September 30

Favorite web sites

I have LOADS of favorite web sites. Some are for entertainment, some are for information, and some are for... okay... shopping. I'm one of those people who really doesn't enjoy shopping. I'd much rather be home reading or surfing those fave sites o' mine or tweeting or, well, you get the picture. :-)

So I thought I'd share some of my favorite web sites. These are in no particular order, but I hit them all at least once a week. Usually a lot more.

Okay, I'm a weather junkie. I love love LOVE seeing what's up, especially in the tropics. (A throwback to my corporate days where my company tracked every named storm on a giant map.) I check the weather every day, at least once a day sometimes more. I know there's a Google gadget that will put this right on my desktop, but I like getting there the old-fashioned way. (@kaycassidy - come say hi!)

Well, technically I access it via Tweetdeck most of the time. But the end result is still the same. I fear I may have to go on a Twitter hiatus as I get closer to my The Cinderella Society book 2 deadline, but oh how I shall miss it!

I heart Chatzy. Yes, it can lock up on occasion, but I still think it's fabulous to be able to set up a free impromptu chat anytime you want to. The Tenners (my debut class of 2010) do twice-weekly Chatzy chats--I usually try to make at least one of them--and I've popped into several author/blogger chats just for fun. They're usually in the evening, so it's a great way to wrap up the day!

What about you? What sites do you hit every week? (Besides TFC, of course!) :-)

Tuesday, September 29


I don't know about you but I have certain blogs that I visit every day without fail. And if I forget I get really twitchy, in case I've missed something crucial (gossip is crucial, in case you're wondering).

The only trouble was the time it took to go from one to another. So when a friend told me about Google Reader where I could read all my blogs at once, it was great. Now I go into Google Reader several times a day and can keep up, no problem. It's perfect.

It got me thinking, though, that by using Google Reader I'm not registering on a blog's statistics. So, someone with a blog might think they're getting less visitors than they really are.

What about you. Do you use Google Reader? And if so how many on your roll?

Saturday, September 26

Fashionably Late

This week at Teen Fiction Cafe, the topic is fashion... which might be one reason why I've been putting off posting about it. Any of you who know me may have noticed that I'm a little... challenged in that area. I don't know what it is. Some people are born with fashion sense, some people are not. I fall firmly in the latter category. Any day now, I'm afraid that Stacy and Clinton are going to show up on my doorstep with candid shots of all my fashion disasters.

So I am more than a little grateful that Melissa was able to provide me with material to write about. Last week, she had a piece on NPR's All Things Considered. Check it out here.

First of all, yay, Melissa! Second, hooray for books that can help even the most challenged of us learn to be a little more fashion forward. I think I need that Fashion 101... (although it's geared to teens, which I am decidedly not.) I plan on checking it out anyway because I'm not convinced that my sense of style (or lack thereof) really reflects my sense of self.

How about you? Does your clothing reflect who you are? Or are you a creature of comfort like me?

Friday, September 25

Good News Friday: More Wedding Stuff

I'll stop with wedding blah, blah, blah but I had to share this hometown Chapel Hill Magazine story, especially since they gave it a book angle!

This might be as exciting as when Sarah Dessen and I were on the cover... almost.

Happy Good News Friday, all! And congrats, Erica!!!

Good News Friday

So I won.

This is my middle-grade fantasy series.

I feel like there should be chocolate or something.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 16

Can I interest you in a bag of potatoes?

We are talking about food this week, but I bet you figured that out!

This summer I did something I've wanted to do ever since I heard about it - I signed up for CSA, that is, Community Supported Agriculture. Basically: in the spring you pay some money to a local farm for a share of what they grow. Based on how many shares are sold, the farm starts plantin'. Then, in summer and fall, you get a pile of fresh, seasonal produce (which you pick up from whatever pickup point is close). It's great because a) it forces you to try new things, b) supports local farmers, c) keeps you with a steady supply of fresh and usually organic fruits & veggies, which we all know are good for us.

I bought one share and have tried to keep up, but despite my best efforts the produce is piling up. Especially potatoes. Every week. Lots and lots of potatoes. It's a bumper crop of potatoes! Red ones, yellow ones, and even purple ones. Fortunately, they keep for a long time. Unfortunately, I do not have a root cellar with an entire potato room.

Other than a backlog of tomatoes and peppers (and of course spuds), CSA has been a good thing. There is only one thing I've received that I do. not. like. Yes, the dreaded eggplant. I'm not sure what my issue is with our friend the aubergine, but I think it's a texture thing. i.e. slime. I do however love baba ganoush! That is the only thing I can do with eggplant and enjoy. If you don't know about it, it's a superyummytastic Middle Eastern dip you have with pita. Here's a recipe.

Of all the things you could receive in a surprise box of produce, what would make you say, "Ohhhyeah!" and what would make you say, "Ohhhnooooo!"?

Monday, September 14

Catching Food

I got to spend last week on a friend's boat north of Vancouver, and I went salmon fishing for the first time. I actually caught my food! My friend Natalie and I hauled in three big "pinks," with our amazingly kickass guide, Candice.

They called our boat the SS Estrogen, and we caught more fish than any of the men out there!

Here's a photo of Candice filleting the fish after we got back to the docks. (I'm on the right in the yellow pants... hey, it was cold and rainy!). Okay, yeah, I skipped the hard part of cleaning the fish. We ate fresh salmon that night and then made one fillet into Gravlox, a salt-cured salmon, for an appetizer later in the week. Sooo good!

Reeling in those fish was an adventure, I tell you! It makes me appreciate the fish market at my local grocery store a lot more too. And it just might be inspiration for a set-on-the-water novel at some point.

Have you guys ever caught your own dinner?

Thursday, September 10

Honeymoon Travel Planning

Like Lauren, I didn't get to go on vacation this year. I was supposed to visit a friend in Kansas, but got really sick (doing the photoshoot for this magazine interview that just came out today actually. I already had a bad cold, then was shooting at night out in the freezing cold. I felt like I was on ANTM, just waiting to be yelled at by Tyra or something! But the photo is really cute!), so other than spending four days in a house about 2 hours away to write, I got nothing.

Actually Lauren and I have a lot in common when it comes to travel, like our favorite city, Seattle (which is the last place I was, back in April) and our current dream place to travel, South Dakota. Really, I wish more than anything that I had one week free this month to drive out the Badlands and Deadwood (I've been watching the show Deadwood, so I'm obsessed), but I don't. And the reason I have no time and no money for travel is I'm getting married in a little over three weeks!!!!

So now my vacation fantasies are all about the honeymoon. Because the wedding is so expensive (and ours is cheap in the scheme of things-- I have no idea how people afford these lavish weddings, rich parents or lots of debt, I guess. We don't have wealthy families and I'm not willing to take on more debt than I already have with my mortgage and student loans.) and planning it is so time consuming, we are waiting to do our big honeymoon. Right after the wedding, we'll be staying at a Bed and Breakfast about an hour away from home for a couple days. I already can't wait for it!

We're hoping to do the actual honeymoon in January and the plan is to go some place really warm while it's terribly cold in Chicago. Back when I was 11 years old, I was in my aunt Amy's wedding as a junior bridesmaid (it was one of those big, traditional weddings). She went to Hawaii on her honeymoon and at that point I linked honeymoon and Hawaii in my mind. So our number one choice for the honeymoon is definitely Hawaii. After an informal Facebook/Twitter survey last week, it was decided that Maui or Kauai will be our islands of choice. But honestly, I'm kinda afraid that we aren't going to be able to afford it. And having never planned a vacation like this, I'm really unsure about where to look for the best deals. Anyone have suggestions?

I'm also putting together a plan B for our honeymoon. It has to be a place where no passport is required because we don't have them and I'm not planning to get one until after I change my name. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were suggested to me, though I don't know how much cheaper they will truly be than Hawaii. Florida is a possibility, I guess, though I've never been much of a Florida girl (except Naples, I really loved Naples!). So right now my second choice is San Diego. I'm not sure how much there is to do there that is honeymoonish, but I hear the weather is great and it is on my list along with South Dakota of places I need to see. Again, I'm open to ideas.

And what about you, if you were to go on a honeymoon or second honeymoon or just a big tropical vacation, where would you go?

Wednesday, September 9


Before we get started here, I'd like to apologze to Alyson, Amanda, Jessica, Kay, Kelly, Linda, Liza, Melissa, Sara, Sara, Stephanie, Teri and Wendy. Have I got everyone covered? (Double-checking the TFC sidebar.) Yup, I do since I don't have to apologize to Lauren seeing as Lauren is me.

I'm apologizing for being remiss lately. I have absolutely read and been entertained by your blog posts here, cheered your successes here and elsewhere, but I've failed to take that extra step of vocally commenting or cheering, because I've been a little self-involved lately - even more so than usual - and that's because...CRAZY BEAUTIFUL came out on Monday!

Terrific, now that the mea cupla and the obligatory self-plug - darn, that sounds dirty - are out of the way, we've got another hurdle. You see, I've been assigned to write about Vacation/Travel this week, and the problem is...I didn't go anywhere this summer! And I refuse to use the word *staycation* - outside of having just used it but that was only so the rest of this sentence makes sense - because that word annoys me. In fact, it goes right in the bin with other odious verbal constructions like "teachable moment" - bleagh.

So what shall we talk about?

I know! We'll make this mercifully short. I'm going to name one city/state and country I traveled to in the past and loved and one state and country I've never been but would love to go to. And then you do the same. If you're really feeling creative about it, you can tell us why you're so passionate about those particular places, but don't feel you're required to strain yourself - clearly, I haven't been feeling that requirement lately!

OK, here is self-absorbed me going first:

(I can't believe Blogger doesn't have a way for me to underline things!)

OK, here is self-involved me really going first (having decided bolding things will work almost as well):

A favorite city/state I've been to: Seattle, Washington. Mountains, water, tearing a king crab apart like a crazy woman.

A favorite country I've been to: Iceland. Waterfall, geyser, volcano, falling off an Icelandic pony.

A state I am dying to go to: Well, I don't know about dying, but I would like to see South Dakota. Shouldn't someone really want to see South Dakota? And isn't that where the Badlands are? I think I belong in the Badlands. Yes, thank you, Wikipedia, they are in SD. And so's Mount Rushmore. I thought it was but didn't want to speculate before checking Wiki because then I might expose myself as being geographically stupid. Oops. I just did.

A country I am dying to go to: Greenland. I see no reason to explain myself further.


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, September 4

GNF: You like me? You really like me?!?

I've been hiding out for a few weeks just trying to get part of a third book written. Should be finishing that up over the weekend (cross your fingers that I can do it and that my agent likes it and that it eventually leads to more good news), but I wanted to pop over and celebrate a bit today because Ballads of Suburbia is continuing to get some amazing reviews from the people who matter most.... teens and other readers!!!!!

Publishers Weekly never reviewed the book, which kinda disappointed me, but today this wiped that disappointment away. A teen reviewer on the PW blog called Ballads "unforgettable" and recommended it to anyone in high school!

I've gotten a bunch of other reviews from YA book bloggers which I am going to link to on my website as soon as I meet my deadline. But a couple other recent ones that made me smile were from Shooting Stars Mag and Harmony Book Reviews.

Also Julia, a bookseller from the fabulous LA bookstore Book Soup, wrote up a fantastic review which compared me to an adult writer I really love, Hubert Selby, Jr.

So it's been a good week for reviews. And that is keeping the inspiration alive while I try to get this next writing project going.

Thanks for letting me share! Have you gotten any motivating news lately?

Thursday, September 3

Schooooool's out... for... wait, what were we talking about?

Sorry, my mistake. It's not school's OUT, it's school's IN. Yes, it's that time of year again. Time for students to get back into the daily grind of Monday through Friday classes. I know some of you have been back for a few weeks already!

When I was in high school, we always started school the Wednesday after Labor Day. Always. Where I live now, students head back to school in mid-August. Mid-August! That just seems crazy to me. I wasn't even thinking clothes shopping in mid-August when I was a teen. (Disclaimer: That was a blatant lie. I started school shopping as soon as the fall clothes got put on the racks. But I'm trying to make a point here, so let's roll with it.)

So I was debating the other day whether I would've rather started school in mid-August and been done the end of May -OR- started in early September and been done in mid-June.

I grew up in the North, so the pools were nowhere near warm enough by the end of May to actually do any swimming. And some of the schools didn't have adequate air conditioning, so late August days would get a bit stifling in the classroom. Both points in favor of doing a September-to-June schedule.

On the other hand, having an August-to-May schedule would mean I could... um... my friends and I would surely... err...

Okay, I have no idea. What are the advantages of doing the August-to-May schedule? I'm sure there are plenty! So now I'm even more curious. If you could choose between having a September-to-June schedule or an August-to-May schedule, which would you choose? And those of you on the August-to-May cycle, school me! What are the perks? I know there are obvious ones that I'm missing. :-)

Happy back to school shopping!