Thursday, July 29

Close your eyes… it’s a VACATION.

“Open wide...Let me know if it hurts.”

Is she kidding? It always hurts. It’s just a question of degrees. Will it be a mild, somewhat irritating pain or will it be one of those shocking, electric bolts that run through the tooth’s nerve all the way down to my toes and back again?

Maybe I should ask for some more Novocain just to be sure? Numb up my whole head until it feels like one of those blimps they cart through New York during the Thanksgiving Day parade. That’s a possibility. But for the time being I’ll do what I always do. I’ll mentally pack my bags and leave.

There are vacations when you check out of the old nine-to-five and head off to some tropical retreat for rest and relaxation and then there are the other vacations, the little mini vacations of the mind where you check out of your head in an effort to maintain some control over a painful situation. When I’m at the dentist, my body might be in that chair but my mind is off someplace special and pleasant. It’s what I do. Admit it, it’s what we all do.

Stuck in a classroom with a boring teacher and a painfully slow clock? Just drift away and climb on that dirt bike and push it the limits on a perfect trail deep in the woods, jumping streams and taking corners full throttle.

Cutting the front lawn, pushing the mower back and forth in an endless mind-numbing crisscross pattern? Step away and save the crowded auditorium from the gun-toting terrorists. Impulsively diving from the balcony, knocking the first one unconscious, grabbing his weapon, turning it on the other terrorist before they even know what’s happening. Defeat the villains, become the adored hero.

Sitting in church while the minister rambles on and on about what is and isn’t good for the soul? Drift out of your body and push open the plane’s door, look at the ground thousands of feet below you, check your parachute one last time and launch yourself out into the void, the wind howling around you like a fierce beast.

It’s summertime, it’s vacation time, enjoy the sun and relaxation but let’s hear it for those old-fashioned vacations of the mind, the daydreams that keep us all sane, the daydreams that make reality bearable, the daydreams that keep us creative. When things are moving at a crawl let yourself drift away; you deserve it.

So, tell me, what’s your favorite daydream?

Here’s a link to one of my favorite daydreams. Enjoy the video!

Wednesday, July 28

How I Spent my Summer Fakation

View from the Fakation Room

So, this week we’re talking about vacations/travel and the sad truth is I will not be taking a vacation and/or traveling this summer.

(I know. Feel free to insert sad violin music here).

Between writing the final Immortals book (aka UNTITLED #6), moving (yep, I just moved, which means I now spend half my time looking for things), and 5 weeks of houseguests (niece & nephew in town for their annual visit)—there just isn’t time.

Though I will admit to having recently taken what I like to refer to as a “Fakation” and let me tell you, it turned out to be pretty darn great.

A couple weeks ago, right after returning from the DARK FLAME tour, we had to move out of the old house even though the new one wasn’t quite ready for us. So my husband and I decided to book a nearby hotel room where we could crash for a couple nights until the renovations we’re complete. After pouring over a list of possibilities we decided to splurge on a really nice room (as opposed to the adequate one we’d been planning), justifying it by reasoning that it would have to take the place of a summer vacation, or, as it turned out to be: A Summer Fakation.

I call it a Fakation because we stayed more or less within our same neighborhood and we both had to work during the day. Every morning, after enjoying a quick breakfast in the hotel café, my husband went off to oversee the renovations, while I retreated to the room to spend the day writing.

There was no lying by the pool, no sprawling on the beach, no fun summer beach reads, and no souvenir shopping—and yet, just having someone pop in to clean the room everyday and supply fresh towels was relaxing in its own way. Oh, and I will never again underestimate the power of room-service and/or dining out and being able to charge it to the room!

So, what about you—will you be taking a summer vacation, a staycation, or a fakation??

Tuesday, July 27

Sydney, baby

Okay so this week at TFC we're talking about vacations (or holidays as we call them in the Southern Hemisphere) and even though this isn't a proper holiday, I'm pretty excited about going over to Sydney for the Romance Writers of Australia conference in two weeks time.

Sara Hantz and I are also giving a workshop on how to write YA but trust me, in-between hanging out with all our writer friends (including our cp, Christina Phillips), we're going to be squeezing in as many touristy things as we can along the way.

First port of call will be the Opera House, not just because it's awesome but because it's right on the Sydney Harbor, which is where the first penal colony was set up by the British.

I'd also love to have time to do a ferry trip and get to The Rocks, and of course I'm sure we will be able to squeeze in some shopping and eating because that's the way we roll.

But for me, the best part about going back to my home country is all the snack foods that I will be stocking up on, so if you're in Sydney in two weeks time just look out for the Young Adult author whose bags (and cheeks) are stuffed with Crumbles, Cherry Ripes and Twisties (though let me warn you, it's not going to be a pretty sight!)

Monday, July 26

Road Trip!

This week's topic is vacation and travel, which is apropos for me, since I feel like I've been on one long, extended vacation all summer, hopping from Ohio to Utah, Arizona, Mazatlan, Washington, D.C., New York City and tomorrow, Orlando.

Twice, the travel has included long trips in the car. I have to confess, even though in many instances I would much rather fly, I do love a good road trip. Which got me thinking... what makes a road trip good?

Here's what I came up with:

1. Good company. To me, a road trip is no fun done solo. It's all about the person you're with. The miles go by faster when you're talking and laughing. The shared experience of the trip is half the fun of making it.

2. Good Music. This must be good sing-along music so you can crank it up and belt it out. My favorite road trip music is classic rock and a select collection of show tunes. Just be careful... I once got pulled over because I was rocking out to an old Zeppelin song in the middle of the night on an empty road and the highway patrolman thought maybe I was drunk because I had been keeping the beat with the gas pedal.

3. Good scenery. There are certain long stretches of interstate that can get tedious *cough* Wyoming *cough* but for the most part, I love seeing how the landscape changes from state to state. Sometimes you have to look for the beauty to appreciate it.

What about you? Have you been on any road trips lately? What do you think makes them good?

Thursday, July 22

School Anthems: TNT, We're DynoMITE!

I am sitting in the basement of my in-law's house in Pacifica, CA---the town of my adolescence---where my first novel, STORY OF A GIRL, is set. In that book, I didn't bother fictionalizing the name of my high school, Terra Nova. My in-laws live less than two miles from said alma mater; I've been driving past it nearly every day for the last three weeks and haven't suffered any major trauma. Time heals everything.

They're doing some major construction at the school---Digging a new pool? Finally replacing those portables with permanent classrooms?---and the roof is now covered with solar panels, but when I go by I see it as it was: the annex where we had drama class, the wall at which I received my first real kiss, the rail where all the scary jocks hung out, the doors to the cafeteria through which I fled during an epic food fight. Most of all, I have had a certain two songs in my head NON-STOP...

Because we were the Terra Nova Tigers
Because our school was pretty white and into hard rock
And, because it was 1984 -

One song we heard a lot was AC/DC's TNT. What? You're not familiar? This is very sad! Let me do my good deed for the day and share:

The girls volleyball team had this whole drills/get fired up/intimidate the opponent thing to this song that I thought it was SO COOL. (Of course I would never admit that at the time, since I was a non-sports-playing drama geek. Now it can be told.) But, let's face it, the lyrics to TNT weren't exactly something the administration wanted the kids singing at the top of our lungs: "lock up your daughter / lock up your wife / lock up your back door / and run for your life!"

So our true school anthem, the one we heard at every pep rally, sporting event, and hot lunch jam (okay I made that last one up) was, of course, Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor. Sadly, though the marching band could play the heck out of it, we never thought to sing it as a Glee-like school group. But PS22 did!

How sweet is that?

So - what pop or popular songs were/are your school anthems?

Tuesday, July 20

Sleep Late (It Makes You Smarter)

In high school, I took a "zero period" Chorus class because I kind of liked to sing, and I thought it would help me get into college. I don't think the latter was true. Also, when my alarm went off at 6:45am (the class started at 7:30am), I cried. Every day.

Now there's research to back up my late-sleeper-itis. It has to do with circadian rhythms and your internal body clock during puberty, but the takeaway is this: Teenagers need to sleep a little later. It helps them if you push back school start time by half an hour. There is proof of this fact.

Rejoice! Because seriously, as hard as I try, I just can't be a morning person.

What about you?

Saturday, July 17

Embarrassing Tales: Weirding out Harvey Pekar and other Famous People

Stephanie's wonderful post this week inspired me to share my own tales of fanboy glory. I am always saying stupid things when I meet people I admire. For example, when I recently met author Carl Hiaasen I told him that he was handsome. Well he is! But why did I say that!? He seemed pleased. I felt stupid! Also, when I met The Ramones, I called CJ Ramone "Dee Dee," even though that's a totally different Ramone. And I *knew* it was. I am not one to confuse Ramones. I just get nervous. I felt incredibly dumb.

Meeting The Ramones was actually the coolest and most fanboyish moment I've ever had and the weird/sad thing is that soon after I met them, Joey (the singer) died. Then not too long after that two more members of the band died. And then I got comedian Mitch Hedberg's autograph and then, yes, he died an early death.

This was starting to freak me out.

I mean, I didn't think too much of it, but I'm not really generally a fanboy or autograph collector, and these were among the few whose autographs I had. These guys were among my absolute favorites, then I got their autographs, then they died. My friends started teasing me about being cursed. So *then* I met Harvey Pekar, who wrote cool comics and who inspired a great movie (American Splendor) and who I really admire. I thought, "Hey, Harvey will think this story is funny about how when I get people's autographs they die." But of course Harvey did not think this. What would YOU think if someone asked you for your autograph and then they said "Hey it's funny, as soon as I get someone's autography they die." He got really freaked out! I was like, "Man, I"m dumb!" I tried to explain. He gave me a piercing Pekar-glare. I felt so embarrassed as I imagined his thoughts. Was I a stalker? A serial killer? Was this a threat? It was certainly a weird thing to say to someone. I couldn't even begin to explain. But then he laughed and said "Ah, I'm tough. I've been around a long time and I'm not going anywhere." He gave me an autograph and went on his way.

The sad end to this story is, as you may know, that Harvey passed away this past week. It was about eight or nine years post-giving-Berk-an-autograph, so I don't feel like I cursed him. It was just his time. He was a heck of a writer and a cool guy and just one of the famous people I made myself a fool out of in front of. I wonder who will be next!

Thursday, July 15

A Fangirl Tale

This week's topic at Teen Fiction Cafe is embarrassing tales, but rather than writing an entire blog entry on my tiny bladder (no, I have not had any real accidents but some close calls) that would be TMI and *too* embarrassing. I've decided that I would write about a total fangirl moment, since I got sooooo fangirly it felt kinda embarrassing.... well, whatever it happened 2 days ago and I wanted to tell the story so I've decided to try to make it fit.

I'm still completely shocked when people are excited to meet *me*. I get just as excited about having an actual fan usually as the fan is excited about meeting me. (I have the whole "You like me? You really like me???" moment.) Why? Because I am used to being the fangirl. When I go to publishing conferences and meet people like Laurie Halse Anderson, who is one of my biggest literary inspirations, I'm hyperventilating on the inside, wondering how the hell I wound up invited to the same event as someone as amazing as her. When I met my fellow TFC girls: Melissa Walker, Linda Gerber and Elizabeth Scott at BEA this year, there was some major inner squeeing going on along with wondering how the hell I got invited to blog with them. But nothing, NOTHING matched the fangirl moment I had on Tuesday night when I finally met the woman who has inspired me more than anyone besides my own mother AND it happened on my birthday:

In case somehow you don't recognize her that's the one and only Courtney Love. A photo taken by my friend Jenny from our front and center spot at the Hole concert in St. Louis on Tuesday night.

When I say that I'm a fan of Courtney Love and Hole, I feel the automatic need to defend my choice. She's controversial. She always has been even before she was a tabloid regular. She's made a lot of bad choices. She's fallen into a lot of deep dark places. But she's human. I may be a fangirl, but I'm not a celebrity worshiper or someone who puts people up on a pedestal just because they are famous and/or talented (and unfortunately you no longer have to be talented to be famous). I grew up in the punk scene. I went to shows where the bands played with no barrier between themselves and the audience. Because they are just people, people happen to be extremely talented. So I don't need the musicians or other artists I admire to be perfect or be role models. I love them because of the art they create. Have I felt embarrassed *for* Courtney Love before? Sure. She's been in the spotlight during very vulnerable times and made poor choices. But here is the reason why Courtney and her music has always meant so much to me. This is straight from the acknowledgments in my book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE:

"The first time I heard Courtney Love scream that she was "pretty on the inside," it saved my angry, thirteen-year-old girl soul."

Courtney was the gorgeous (but not traditionally early 90's supermodel pretty), outspoken woman who said the things I couldn't. She made me feel like I could be beautiful in my own way even though the boys in junior high mocked my looks every day. Her music helped me release the rage from those incidents and so many incidents throughout high school. She taught me to be strong. She taught me that I could live through this and be survivor. (and wow, is she a survivor. If you haven't seen VH1's Behind the Music on her, you should and the magnitude of what she has survived will hit you hard.) She taught me how to be angry and flawed and to pick myself up when I fall down and turn it into art. I wouldn't be a writer without her music. I might not even be here period.

So... Total. Huge. Fangirl.

When I found out that she was playing on my 31st birthday in St. Louis, the city I am originally from, I decided I had to go. It's only a five hour drive from Chicago and one of my very best friends lives there, a friend who I met online because of our love of Hole's music actually. So I know she would be game for going and paying extra to get VIP tickets. Here I am with Jenny (left) and our VIP tickets:

Now the VIP ticket basically just meant you got early entry into the venue and a special laminate and poster. All I cared about was the early entry. I haven't ventured onto the floor or the pit at a concert since my early twenties. I spent my teen years getting ribs bruised and other cuts, scrapes and bumps every weekend at punk shows. It got old. I *felt* old. But I decided that on my 31st birthday, I would be 13 again. I would be right up front for Courtney. I would be goofy and have a blast. I even wore a birthday girl tiara in hopes that it might catch her eye. Which it did. At one point she asked, "Is it your birthday?" I told her it was and then she proceeded to talk about how cute "my boyfriend" was. He was actually just a really tall dude standing behind me, politely protecting me from being crushed. My husband was out with Jenny's husband having boy time because we couldn't afford two VIP tickets and besides it seemed like an experience I should have with one of my best girl friends. Here I am in front of the venue with Jenny in my birthday tiara (for awhile I arranged the stickers on it to say it was my 13th birthday instead of 31st because that's what it felt like, it was so much fun!)

The show as completely amazing (except for a couple psycho drunk fans). Courtney's voice was in peak form and she was obviously sober. She played my favorite old Hole song ("Plump") back to back with my favorite new song "Someone Elses's Bed"). My only possibly complaint was I wish it had gone on a little longer. But I enjoyed every second of it. When the show ended, I did something I'd never done before and asked the bouncer if I could have the setlist because it was my birthday. He gave it to me! And there was no doubt what would happen next, Jenny and I had to stick around out back to see if I could get it signed.

And now I have to make another totally dorky admission... I brought a copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE to give to Courtney if I had the opportunity. She inspired that book in so many ways. Like I said earlier, I wouldn't have become a writer without her influence, but also she made me want to be in a band.... except I sucked. So I decide to write a story about a girl who becomes the biggest rock star in the world, creating a reality where the Courtney Loves of the world rule. So yeah. I brought the book. The funny thing is that while Jenny and I were bonding with a couple other fans, Dayna and Ewan, I mentioned it and they kind of flipped out. Apparently they'd read it and loved it (see I told you, I am always shocked!) and because of my book and Hole had decided to form a band. How freakin' cool is that???? So I had a mission: get setlist signed and give Courtney IWBYJR.

We waited for over an hour and a half behind the venue (this is another thing I've never done before). Finally she emerged from a different door and headed for the bus. For a split second, it looked like she was going to leave without greeting the twenty or so faithful fans that had waited. But then she came over, conveniently to the side of the gate I was standing nearest. While she was signing Jenny's VIP pass, I managed to ask very calmly (and let me tell you this was very difficult!), "Courtney, can I give you a present?"
"What is it?" she asked, looking a little bit uncertain (probably because of the screaming drunk girls at the other end of the gate).
"It's a book, one you inspired me to write about a girl rock star... You're even in the acknowledgments." I was handing it to her as I said this.
She looked at the cover and said, "Wow, this is really cute!" Then she turned it over and started reading the back!!!! "MTV Books," she said, "that's cool. And you went to Columbia? What are you doing here?"
"It's my birthday and I wanted to see you."
"Thank you," she told me. And she was so gracious and demure and opposite of what she is made out to be in the press. She also looked at my name at the front of the book and actually personalized her signature to me on her setlist.

When we walked away, I was shaking... practically crying. Yes, I am a huge huge dork. But my inner thirteen year-old had never been happier. It was just one of those moments, something I've been secretly dreaming about for nearly twenty years, what can I say?

Well, I guess all I can say is I hope she reads and enjoys my book!

So here are me and Jenny with our signed stuff, totally tuckered out from being fangirls.

What about you? What big fangirl or fanboy moments have you had? Or who would you love to meet? For me, now that I've met Courtney, I think Francesca Lia Block is at the top of my list.

Monday, July 12

Embarrassing Tales: The Fiction Edition

I can tell I've been around TFC for a long time because when this week's topic came up, Embarrassing Tales, I thought to myself, "Hmm...haven't they already heard all of mine?" And I can't do a retread, so, and since it's also...Pub Date for THE EDUCATION OF BET!...I figured I'd throw some fictional embarrassament out there. The book is set in Victorian England about a 16-year-old girl, the eponymous Bet, who decides to impersonate a boy in order to get a proper education. Bet is very good at putting her scheme together. She figures out what to do about her appearance, what to do about the way she walks and the way she talks. But one thing Bet doesn't count on is...getting her period! That's right. There's poor Bet. Picture the scene. Bet's at school, impersonating a boy, living with a boy roommate, when she wakes one morning to realize there's just that one little thing she forgot about. And of course - did I mention? - Bet's in Victorian England! She can't just pop down to the handy Tampax dispenser, because that hasn't been invented yet. What will she do???

Now I'm not saying getting one's period should be embarrassing - hello, boys! After all, it's something that 51% of the world's population is subject to. (There are still more females in the world than males, right?) But if a person were to be embarrassed by it, I can't imagine any more embarrassing circumstances in which to get one's period than when one is supposed to be a boy!

Well, that's what I've got today: not my embarrassment, but rather my poor character's. Now it's your turn:


Oh, and as a side note: Just so you know, The Education of Bet is not just about periods. It's also about fishing, cricket, fencing, friendship, romance, bravery, and going after your heart's desire, no matter what the obstacles.

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Sunday, July 11

How Embarrassing!

Where do I start? I am always putting my foot in my mouth. Thank goodness, it's a small foot (size 6). Ha!

The other day I was at an open house sale at a local gift shop. A lady was checking out a little twiggy candle holder that I happened to have, debating whether or not to buy one. So, trying to be a saleslady (to benefit my friend who owned the store), I started flapping my lips about how I had one but how I wished I had two or even three because one looks stupid. I was pretty pleased with myself because she took two to the cash register, but then one of my very good friends reminded me that she was the one who gave it to me. Oops! Thank goodness, she's not the kind of person who was offended, but I was so embarrassed I didn't even know what to say.

Another source of great embarrassment is my youngest son. A few weeks ago, my dad got married to a lovely lady. After the ceremony, her family and those of us representing my dad's side (my sister, 3 little boys and me) were having dinner when my 3 year-old said, "My mom doesn't sleep in p.j.s!" The entire room went silent. I think he just meant I don't wear pajamas that look like his, with the footies, or maybe that I just sleep in a T-shirt or something. But of course it didn't come across that way.

Have you put your foot in your mouth lately? Or did you wish you could put your foot into somebody else's mouth? Tell us!

Saturday, July 10

The Art of Making Friends

When I was a little kid (back in the 1880s), it seemed like making friends was easy. If you were a three year old at the playground and saw another three year old, you simply went up to them and said, "Hi. Want to be my friend?" And then they would shrug, and off you would go to play together. Then you would later return to your parents' side and announce you couldn't possibly leave to go home because you couldn't leave your Best Friend Ever.

But then, once you hit school, it was a little harder. Even in kindergarten, there's evidence of cliques. The paste eaters, the readers, the kids who can swing without being pushed. How do you figure out which people are likely to be your friends? But eventually, you figure it out. Someone shows up with a Hello Kitty lunchbox just like yours and it's the playground all over again. Best friends for life.

High school is harder still. By then, people have gravitated toward the things (and people) they mesh with. Sports teams, certain clubs, people you work with. And there's the subtle difference between true friends (the people you can call at 2am when your car runs out of gas on your way home from a midnight movie and give you a lift to the gas station) and acquaintances (who would respond to said call by saying, "Dude, do you know what time it is???").

One true friend is worth the weight of 10 acquaintances in my book.

College is a little easier because, at least as freshmen, everyone is new to the school. Unlike high school where most of the people have been going to school with each other for eons, college is fair game for new friendships. Often times, friendships result from dumb luck: getting assigned to be roommates, meeting someone who shares your sense of humor in your orientation group, etc.

What's interesting to me is that it seems that making friends in adulthood is sometimes the hardest of all. Sure, you have your work friends. And sometimes those are true friendships rather than just someone to grab a beer with on Friday night. But when you change jobs, those friendships often fade into the background. Same goes for neighbors you're chummy with. Once you move, staying in touch takes real effort. It's the whole proximity thing again.

Add to that the whole family aspect--parents at different stages of the game with different family obligations pulling on their time--and no wonder it's hard to build real and true friendships at this stage of the game. Is it okay to call them after 8pm when I finally get home from work and finish dinner or will it wake the baby? Should I ask them over this weekend or are they out of town for the sixth weekend in a row for their son's traveling baseball team? And for adults who have multiple kids going in 19 different directions all at once, when they finally ARE all home together, I almost feel guilty extending the invitation because they deserve some quality family time once in a while too.

It's the friendship conundrum. It seems that making friends, no matter what your age, is always one part luck.

Fortunately, I've made some wonderful friends over the last few years in our new town. Both fellow writer chums (who have become my friends in real life too) and neighbors who we still keep in touch with even though they've moved across the country. And I don't take that for granted. We've moved around a lot as a couple and it's a rare (and wonderful!) thing to have finally settled in and made lasting friendships.

That hasn't always been the case for us. In our last house, we were surrounded by people who were almost never outside. Seriously, NEVER. We never saw our neighbors unless they were mowing their lawn. Which isn't really the ideal time to stop for a chat. And the people we worked with were at different stages of their lives (or had vastly different interests) than us.

So today, I'm sending out some karmic love for our great adult friends and all the wonderful childhood friends who helped shape who I am over the years. Big smoochies to all of you.

What about you? What do you think is the hardest part about making friends as you get older?

Thursday, July 8

Make Friends, Make Friends..... Never, Never Break Friends!!

After reading Elizabeth's post about friendships breaking up, I thought I'd do something about making friends.

I've always had a good sense of which people I'm going to be friends with. Usually from the first time I meet them. There's just something about certain people which you click with instantly. Whether at school, or work or in a social situation. I'm not saying that I don't ever end up friends with someone I didn't like from the outset. Some people are quiet and shy so you can't get to know them immediately, and others might come across as cold, but it's just their manner and once you get past that they're lovely people.

In all my years (yikes that makes me sound really old).... I can honestly say the friendliest people I've come across are writers. Whether it's the empathy thing, I don't know. I mean you've got to score high on the empathy chart to write well (in my opinion, anyway!!). My closest friends are writers, and we don't just talk writing... we fill our conversations with meaningful stuff like Idol, Twilight, football, food..... the joys of teenage children (or younger children for that matter).

Some of my friends I've had since school, and we needn't see each other for over a year but when we meet up it's like yesterday. And we can talk about anything. Those sorts of friendships are priceless.

What about you.... do you have a mix of old and new friends?

Tuesday, July 6

The Heartbreakers: When A Friendship Ends

If there is one thing that matters in high school--and for your whole life--it's friendships. They are what memories that stick with you.

The amazing ones.

The awful ones.

My current novel, The Unwritten Rule, is about a girl, Sarah, who falls for her best friend Brianna’s boyfriend, Ryan, but it’s about more than wrestling with feelings for a guy that you know you shouldn't ever have. A lot of the book deals with friendship, the kind of lifelong friendship that means the world to you...and what happens when you realize that maybe it isn’t what you think it is.

That maybe your best friend isn’t your best friend. Maybe she isn’t even a friend at all.

Friendships are tricky things. You can be sure everything is fine, and that your friendship is going to last forever--and it can just end. No explanation, no anything. And it is not easy. In fact, I think losing a friend is worse than losing a boyfriend, especially when it is a friend you’ve had in your life for a long time.

One of the things that Sarah struggles with in The Unwritten Rule, beyond her feelings for Ryan, is her friendship with Brianna--how long they’ve been friends, how she understands Brianna in a way no one else does, and what to do when a crack appears in their friendship, not because of Sarah's feelings for Ryan, but because Sarah begins to wonder if maybe Brianna isn’t her best friend after all.

Having a friendship end is incredibly painful and one of the things I hated when I was younger--and that I still hate now--is how people say, “Oh, it’ll be okay. You’ll move on, you’ll be fine.”

It is true that you will eventually move on and that you will be fine. But you will also always carry that lost friendship with you. It may not take up all of your heart like it does at first, but it will take part of it.

And that, I think, is something no one ever talks about and that I wish we could--and would.

What do you do when someone you are friends with decides your friendship is over? How do you deal with it?

For me, it took tears--and time. (A lot of time, in some cases.)

How about you?

Sunday, July 4

Money, Money, Money... In the News

I've lived in three countries and traveled to five continents and I have to tell you, US money may be one of the most collected currencies in the world as far as holding its value goes, but it's also been the most boring to look at.

I mean, what's up with the monochromatic theme we've had going on for so long? I like color. I like shiny. So it was fun and interesting to me to read this article... and to see that our new bills are taking on a European flair!

Look at all this assembly line money! Makes me want to sing a little O'Jays...

Friday, July 2

Good News Friday: British Karma!

Hey all! So excited to post my very first Good News Friday blog!

The Karma Club has just been released in the UK this week! Hoorah!

Check out the fancy schmancy new cover they gave it!

Totally different than the US cover but I love it just as much!

And here's the summary the UK publisher gave the book:

Don't Get Mad
Get Even...

Maddy always thought she understood how karma worked -- do good things and you'll be rewarded; do something bad and you'll get what's coming to you. But when Maddy's boyfriend, Mason Brooks, gets caught with Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them, it seems like karma has let Maddy down badly.

That's why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start The Karma Club -- a secret society -- in order to 'help' karma along. Sometimes, though, it isn't wise to meddle with the Universe...

And here's the UK version of the trailer that I made:

So if you or anyone you know lives across the pond, make sure to check out a copy at your local bookstore! Or order it online at by clicking here!

More information about both the US and UK edition can be found on my website:

Thanks all!


Good News Friday!

Hello! For those of you in the U.S., happy 4th of July! As many of you are also doing, I'm off to the wilderness (read: no internet) and since we don't want this news to go unannounced, I'm scheduling this post in advance.
Because it's BIG!
The Immortals series hit #5 on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Children's Series! How wonderful!
AND Dark Flame debuted on USA Today Bestsellers list! Congratulations, Alyson! You can read more about it (as I'm sure there are more exciting updates that I won't get to know about until I return to civilization) on Alyson's blog. Click HERE.

Also (and yes I feel dorky piggybacking onto something as exciting as Alyson's news with my own Good News Friday tidbit), but here goes: Lifted recently received a great review from Publisher's Weekly.

"When high school sophomore Poppy's professor mother relocates them from Boulder, Colo--where Poppy hung out with the tattooed, anti-conformist crown--to Pleasant Acres, Tex., where she's to attend a Baptist high school, Poppy is surprised to find herself taken under the wing of two of the most popular girls in school. Poppy's mother is happy to see her with clean-cut new friends, but polished, polite Whitney and Mary Jane have a secret: they love to shoplift. Soon Poppy is stealing from stores and juggling a couple of romantic interests, including the preacher's son. Toliver (the Romantic Comedies series) adeptly captures Poppy's conflict between wanting to do what's right and the rush she gets from lifting, which is underscored by the tension between her independent streak and her relief and appreciation over finding new friends so easily. Mary Jane's complicated history with another student takes the story to its climax, as Poppy has to decide who her friends are and who she is. Poppy is an appealing, relatable protagonist, though secondary characters can be one dimensional; the ending is pat but satisfying. Ages 14-up. (June)." --Publisher's Weekly
And last but not least, please visit Free Book Friday (founded by own own Jessica Brody) for a chance to win 1 of 3 signed copies of Lifted!

Thursday, July 1

In the News: Monkey Trap

Is it just me or has the news actually gotten too painful to watch? When I was a kid someone told me about a monkey trap. A monkey trap is just a hollowed-out coconut, filled with a treat and tied to a tree. The monkey comes along, reaches into the coconut, grabs the treat and then can’t remove his clenched hand from the coconut. On some level he knows he’s trapped but he really wants that tasty treat and he’s convinced that if he just keeps trying he’ll get both his freedom and the treat.

It seems to me the world is caught in a monkey trap. We want our oil, we know it’s bad for the environment but don’t want to invest in new forms of alternative energy. We know our government only works if Republicans and Democrats work together and compromise but both parties are just holding on tight to this notion that there’s only one direction to turn, left or right. Everyone agrees that the foundation of the future has to be poured and set in the present but nobody’s willing to pay for.

Monkey traps, monkey traps, monkey traps. I think it’s time to let go of the bait and start using our heads. Remember, the monkey that discovers the key to the trap is to remove your hand and turn the coconut upside down not only lives but gets a free meal.

When I’m not writing I’m working the day job, the one that pays the bills. I’ve owned a widow cleaning company for more years than I care to admit. It’s actually not a bad job although I freeze in the winter, burn in the summer and some mornings I’m so sore from spending countless hours on a ladder that I can barely move. But like I said, it’s a job and it pays the bills and most importantly it’s a job that doesn’t require a great deal of thought so I’m free to think about my writing projects. Unlike at other jobs my mind is my own; it’s not filled with other people’s numbers or spent trying to talk someone into something they really don’t want. It’s just me and my crew, a squeegee, a bucket, a ladder and a head full of daydreams and book ideas.

But maybe I’m caught in a monkey trap. Maybe I should let go of that bait and look for a different way of getting that treat out of the coconut. It’s worth giving some thought to. I think on some level we’re all reaching into that monkey trap.

In this day of the Internet and readily available information I’ve recently become the recipient of a lot of emails trying to sell me on the idea of expanding my residential window cleaning operation to include high-rise buildings. Quite frankly that idea terrifies me. Lowering myself over the side of a twenty-story building isn’t something I would consider doing unless someone held a gun to my head and even then I might consider the bullet to be preferable.

But it’s a thought, maybe a bad one but a thought of something different. Unfortunately I don’t believe it’s something that would work for me or my crew of misfits. We’re not very disciplined, we enjoy a good practical joke and spend far too much time laughing. I imagine if we undertook such an endeavor it would transpire very much like this. (Note: Despite the beginning, this is not porn.) Enjoy.