Monday, January 31

On the Set of a Book Trailer...

The theme this week is "LOL Moments" and for the life of me I couldn't think of one. At least not one that didn't include some kind of liquid shooting out of my nose (and trust me, no one wants to read about THAT!)

But I did have an amazing time last weekend filming the book trailer for my upcoming release, My Life Undecided (June 2011)! So I decided to blog about that instead. And share some photos from the set.

MY LIFE UNDECIDED is about a fifteen year old girl, notorious for making bad decisions, who enlists the help of the online blog reading population to vote on how she should live her life.

Filming the trailer was a truly remarkable experience! The cast and crew were fantastic! I should have a full photo gallery soon but in the mean time, here a few production stills to give you a sneak peak.

The trailer will be released at the end of February! So stay tuned! And we should also have a final cover to share in the next few weeks!

Brooklyn (Taylor Coliee) blogs in her room.

A flashback sequence shows Brooklyn's history of "bad decisions." 8 year-old Brooklyn (Riley Chambers) is being dared to drink Windex.
Brooklyn (Taylor Coliee) is tackled by a stunt woman (Jessica Bennett) during Rugby practice after her blog readers decide she should try out. 

Brooklyn's blog readers decide she should join the debate team. Pictured here with her debate opponent (Cesar Manzanera)

The catalyst moment of the story. Brooklyn is arrested and realizes she must do something about her "bad decisions."
Oh, and if you haven't seen my last book trailer for The Karma Club, you can watch it HERE! (It even has a cameo by Deepak Chopra!)

All photo credit goes to Holly Karrol Clark

Friday, January 28

Great News Friday! TFC Welcomes the Amazing Megan Kelley Hall

We are beyond excited to announce that a new author has joined Teen Fiction Cafe! It is my pleasure to introduce my friend (I would just say that just to sound cool, but this time it's actually true), Megan Kelley Hall. Then again, she gets to say she's an "old friend" of Tom Hanks. (Maybe she'll tell us that story sometime!)

As you can see from her photo, she's utterly gorgeous. But don't let her looks fool you; her books, Sisters of Misery and The Lost Sister are some of the creepiest I've ever read.

Megan lives close to Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and young daughter. A graduate of Skidmore College, she's now a literary publicist (Megan, her mom, and her sister are partners in Kelley & Hall Publicity and Promotion), a freelance writer (contributing to magazines such as: Elle, Glamour, Boston Magazine, American Baby, Parenting, and Working Mother), essayist (more on this later), and world traveler (She's been to Greece, the French Riviera, and Australia, to name just enough to get the rest of us jealous). She's also a cancer and open heart surgery survivor and writes about her miraculous story in former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan's anthology, What's Possible!

As you can probably tell by now, Megan is a do-er. When she sets her mind on something, it's as good as done. Horrified by cases of young people who are so relentlessly bullied that they sometimes take their own lives (like Phoebe Prince, the fifteen year-old girl who hanged herself little over a year ago), Megan partnered with YA author Carrie Jones and set their project, an anthology called Dear Bully, into motion. You won't want to miss Megan's first post next Thursday because she is going to tell us more and give us the inside scoop on this heart-felt anti-bullying project.

Please join me in welcoming Megan Kelley Hall to the TFC!

Thursday, January 27

The 7 weirdest things my cat has eaten

If you follow me on twitter, you probably hear quite a bit about my cats. So I've decided to take today to help you get to know one of them.

Here's the group:

Lars is the little gray and white guy to the left, sweet as can be.

Sid is the black and white hanging out in the cat bed. I've had him since I was sixteen.

And that big gray tomcat front and center is Kaspar. Kinda looks like he's eating his toy, doesn't it?

Yeah, Kaspar's an odd one.

But he's very sweet (and he and Lars have a very special relationship)

My former roommate found him on the mean streets of Chicago as a kitten and named him after Kaspar Hauser, a German youth who wandered into a village one day and everyone assumed he'd been raised in the forest like a wild creature. Just to clarify since everyone always wonders why it's Kaspar not Casper and why a gray cat would have what seems like it should be a white cat's name.

Apparently in his short time as an alley cat, Kaspar developed quite a fear that he may never eat again. Despite the fact that he eats heartily twice a day and has for seven years, you will find him trying to steal Lars and Sid's food (Lars lets him, Sid doesn't) or licking out the sink after you've rinsed your dishes because DUDE there can NEVER be ENOUGH FOOD! He also hovers when you cook and will raid just about any item you leave out. So I thought it would be a great list to make a list of the top seven most bizarre things that Kaspar likes to eat.

7. Okay, fair warning, this one is disgusting. Lars has a little bit of a weak stomach and sometimes he pukes up his food right after he ate it. Kaspar apparently thinks he is a baby bird or maybe a dog (he does have a lot of dog-like tendencies, so sometimes we wonder exactly who his parents were) and he eats what Lars threw up if you don't clean it fast enough.

6. All my cats have been drawn toward tuna. Sid has a history of jumping into a pizza box or grabbing steak straight off a boyfriend's plate (his vegan mom has long denied him exposure to these delicacies). My childhood cat like polish sausage and cookies, but Kaspar likes fruit. Last summer whenever I cut up watermelon, there he was begging like it was sirloin.

5. Okay, watermelon is sweet, we can get that, but Kaspar also eats veggies. In fact, when my roommate moved out and left him with me (he got along better with my cats than her other cat), she made me promise that every time I cut up bell peppers, I would give him a piece. I am a woman of my word, so I also do. And the other cats always look upset that he is getting a special treat, but then they sniff it and get as confused as I am.

4. This is a cute picture, right? Kaspar is getting into the Halloween spirit?

No. He's trying to eat the jack o'lantern. In fact we will not be able to leave him in the room alone with it. And I will quickly discover that he knows butternut and acorn squash are in the same family.

3. My other cats can tell the difference between soy meat substitutes and actual meat. If Kaspar notices, he doesn't care. One day my husband was preparing to microwave a plate of vegan "buffalo wings." So it's spicy wheat protein basically. And it was FROZEN. Hubby went upstairs to answer the phone and Kaspar grabbed one of those suckers. Not knowing how to use the microwave did not bother him. His plan was to hold onto it until it defrosted enough to eat. He growled at us like Stephen King's demon dog Cujo when we tried to take it away.... until a noise scared him, he dropped it, and I snatched it away.

2. We thought it was safe to leave out condiments around him.... until we found that he had torn open and devoured a packet of Taco Bell hot sauce. It wasn't the mild kind either. But maybe it's the pepper or he got a taste for it from those "buffalo wings"?

1. The very first picture should have made you suspicious. Maybe you already know what is coming. Kaspar really loves to eat and he really loves certain toys, furry and feathery things in particular because he thinks they are mice or birds. He even does the growling thing over them sometimes and probably gets frustrated that we laugh instead of being intimidated. Well, on Christmas Eve we handed out three toys to our three cats, instructing them to share. But there was a furry ball on a string that Kaspar liked. Sid did too, but Kaspar did not want him to have it. So he ate it. My husband caught him with the string in his mouth and we worried for a couple days that we would need to take him to the vet. But his appetite was as voracious as normal and he didn't exhibit any signs that it was bothering him. Cats eat mice, we told ourselves. And Kaspar ate Taco Bell hot sauce without any problems, so he'll either process it or puke it up. The Monday after Christmas, we found a fuzzy vomit pile in our bedroom. Kaspar did not try to eat that.

Hopefully I made you laugh more than I made you gag. What are some of your pets' strangest quirks?

Tuesday, January 25

10 Little Everyday Annoyances

1. The sound of a water bottle being squeezed. It's worse than fingernails on a blackboard for me.

2. Not being able to wiggle my toes. Like if the bed's too short or my shoes are too small. (I buy closed-toe shoes a half size too big.)

3. Soggy cereal.

4. Stepping in gum or dog poop (or worse).

5. Toilet seats left up. I know it's cliche, but I'm the only female in my family and I can always tell when their friends or any male relatives have been over.

6. The smell of downtown Ogden, Utah (about 20 minutes from my home). 50% dog food factory, 50% Wonder Bread bakery. 100% disgusting.

7. The sound of whispering on TV shows. My husband likes to watch hunting shows and the hunters narrate while they're trying to be quiet so as not to spook the animals. Seriously, dudes. Shoot the footage and then do voice overs later on. Or little interviews like they do on reality TV shows. SOMETHING besides whispering into the microphone.

8. Waking up before the alarm goes off but not having enough time or not being able to fall asleep again.

9. Having to pay a "resort fee" or "luggage fee" on top of regular pricing. Please, just add it in so I don't have any surprises.

10. When there isn't any Diet Coke. (I know, pathetic.)

What are some of the little things that annoy you?

Monday, January 24

Lauren's Top 3 New-to-Her Shows

You all know I'm a TV head, right? Well, here are the three new-to-me things I've most enjoyed in recent months.

1. Luther, a British six-part miniseries about a brilliant but volatile murder detective who reluctantly enlists the aid of a psychopath in solving cases. Easily the best new thing I saw this year.

2. Being Human, the American version of a British series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who decide to cohabitate so they can enjoy something resembling normal lives. It's a fabulous comedy-horror hybrid.

3. Off the Map, about six young and youngish doctors in a remote South American village, that looks an awful lot like Hawaii, taking on your typical remote-village problems like a nature photographer being too closely embraced by a green anaconda. The best thing about it is that it has Zach Gilford, who formerly played earnest and beloved QB Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights, as a much sleazier character closer to his own age. Not that there's anything great about sleazy. It's just nice seeing actors not get pigeonholed.

Oh, but why did I have to think QB? Because now I'm thinking about my Jets losing yesterday in the AFC Championship game. Ah, well. Next year!

And from three things I'm loving on TV to one thing I'm really not:

What the writers have done to the Elizabeth Webber character on "General Hospital." I love stopping work every day from 3-4pm to watch, but what they've done to Elizabeth over the past year is nothing short of character assassination. First they had her sleeping with Nikolas, her fiance-at-the-time Lucky's half-brother aka the Greek prince. Then they had her acting like a jealous shrew anytime any woman comes near either Nikolas or Lucky. And now that they've made the character totally unbearable, the show has announced that they're giving the actress the heave-ho come spring. Like it's her fault? And what are they going to do with those three-kids-by-three-different-fathers of hers?

So it's your turn: What new-to-you shows are you loving on these days and/or what on TV is making you absolutely nuts?

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, January 21

Good News Friday - More Exciting Film News!

Hey everyone! I think it's safe to say, I'm OVER THE MOON today on Good News Friday. It was just announced that my forthcoming young adult novel, 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER (releasing summer 2012) was just optioned for FILM!!!!

Excuse me, while I do some more happy dancing!!!

Here's the scoop:

Producer Jane Starz, who's best known for films like Ella Enchanted, Tuck Everlasting, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Babysitters Club, and the show Charles in Charge, optioned the book and plans to adapt it into a feature length film! I've met with Jane several times and she's fantastic! I adore her. I couldn't be happier placing my book (aka my baby) in her hands!

52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER is my sixth novel (and third for the young adult market). It releases in summer 2012 from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. The book is about a spoiled teen heiress, famous for her party-girl antics and tabloid headlines, who's forced by her ever-absent mogul father to take on a different low-wage job every week for a year of life--and love--lessons, if she wants any hope of receiving her trust fund.

The next step in the process is to attach writers and find a studio. Fingers crossed it actually makes it to the big screen!

Thursday, January 20

Favorite haunts... for the kid in me

So next weekend, le husband and I have our first date day in several months. We used to try to do them every month but, alas, our schedules have been so crazy this fall/winter that they've been nearly impossible to coordinate.

Since we don't get to do them as often as we'd like, I wanted to make it special and fun. After wracking my brain, I came up with... lunch, The King's Speech matinee (which I've been dying to see), and dinner.

I. Am. So. BORING.

I don't know what it is. I like to do fun stuff, but when it comes time to make a fun date I always seem to run out of ideas. For scheduling reasons, it has to be during the day which rules out evening things like comedy shows (one of our favorite pastimes). But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that just because we're grown-ups doesn't mean we have to do "grown-up" stuff. And so, next weekend, we will be embarking on a new and improved date itinerary: lunch, The King's Speech, dinner and...

That's right. It's Monster Mini Golf time at Casa Cassidy. If you've never been to one of the Monster Mini Golf locations across the country, they are not to be missed. It's indoors, all black light with monster images and creepy obstacles to golf around. We've been a few times before and it's always a good time. And be sure to wear white so you glow in the dark!

What kinds of kid things do you love to do?

Sunday, January 16

You'll find me here.... and here.... and here....

So, this week we're talking about our favorite haunt.... and you know what, it's not easy to pin point exactly where my most favorite place is. It all depends. If I'm at a writers conference, you can't beat hanging out in the bar or a restaurant putting the whole publishing world to rights... and believe me that can take you well into the early hours of the morning.

Then, I got to thinking about book shops. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them and can spend hours just looking at all the books. When my kids were younger and we were passing a book shop in the mall they'd get hold of one hand each and drag me past, because they knew if I went in there they'd never get me out.

And let's not forget the theatre - is there any place better than sitting about 10 rows back in the stalls watching a musical????????

And what about awesome scenic places, like Te Mata Peak near where I live. It's the most fabulous, awesome, peaceful place and I never get tired of going there.

So, I have lots of favorite haunts... what about you?

Friday, January 14

Popular Paperback Pick!

On this Good News Friday, I am happy to share that DEATH BY BIKINI was selected as an ALA 2011 Popular Paperback.

That is all. : )

Wednesday, January 12


Okay, I’m not saying that I’m anti-social or that I don’t have any friends. It’s just that most of the time I’m totally content to spend my time alone. I work by myself, the day job involves hours alone in my truck and on ladders, the writing parts of my day are better spent by myself, and that’s all perfectly fine with me. I’ll have coffee and lunch alone, fish alone, go to the gym alone and for the most part it doesn’t really bother me. Actually, sometimes I much prefer being by myself. It’s simple, it’s easy and there’s no fighting over who’s going to pick up the check. Whoever said, “Hell is other people” might have been on to something.

But I digress. The topic at hand is friends, not the lack of friends, and contrary to what I might have led you to believe I do have a very close group of friends that I’ve known since grade school. The four of us will call or email each other on a fairly consistent basis; we even get together every couple of weeks and pick up our ongoing dialog where we left off. It’s like this ever-expanding novel that grows larger with each passing year.

The thing with old friends, I mean friends you actually grew up with, is that they really know you, I mean really. They’ve met your family, hung out in the house you grew up in, seen how you’ve changed over the years, met not only your wife but most of the girls you’ve dated before her. They’ve seen when you’ve done something completely embarrassing and they’ve been there when you’ve accomplished goals that you’ve set for yourself.

Old childhood friends can also be like an extended family, and like family, whenever you get together you tend to slip back into the roles you held growing up. I know when I get together with my family I feel myself quickly slipping back into my role as the oldest son. When I get together with my childhood friends I find myself slipping back into my familiar role of that group too (that would be the wisecracking, goofy guy). We’re like members of an old rock band who get together for an annual reunion tour, automatically moving to our designated places on the stage, strapping on our instruments and playing the same enjoyable songs we’ve played countless times before.

When I was a junior in high school my family moved to another town. It wasn’t far from the town I grew up in and I was driving by then so I could still visit my old friends but I still remember it as being an incredibly strange experience. I was going someplace where nobody knew me; I had no role to play, no group I was bound to hang with. I could be whoever I wanted to be and I have to admit I enjoyed the experience. There’s something to be said about trying to create the person you want to be. But after a while I’d feel that tug and I’d find myself getting together with my old friends and slipping back into that familiar role again and enjoying the experience for what it was and is…something special.

The years blend together, jobs and relationships come and go. My friends and I grow older (and somewhat stranger). It’s all the same but incredibly different like a really good mash-up with something old and something new. Bonus points go out to anyone who can tell me who their best friend was in the fourth grade and whether or not you’re still in touch.
Enjoy the mash-up.

Tuesday, January 11

When Friends Aren't

We've all known someone like this - they say they are your friend, but they talk behind your back. They suck up all the attention and energy wherever they go. They are always seeking favors from you (that's what friends are for, right?) but disappear the second you need help. They say things to cut you down (often followed by "just kidding!")

Why do we put up with these kinds of friends?

I can only speak for myself, but I think our desire to please and fit in has a lot to do with it. I remember wanting so badly to be a part of a well-regarded group (not popular because that was a little out of my realm, so "well-regarded", i.e., not socially outcast, seemed like a viable option) that I would put up with a lot to hold onto friendships I really could have done without. I think (I hope) I have learned a lot from the experience

For anyone who has reason to question if their friends are really their friends, here are some good indicators that they aren't -

1. You can't be yourself around them - you feel you have to act, dress, talk, etc. like them to be accepted.

2. They gossip about other people when you're with them. (A sure indicator of what they do behind your back when you're not there.) Worse, you find yourself gossiping more when you're with them, too.

3. They make passive/aggressive comments about your accomplishments, likes, desires so you feel like you have to downplay yourself to be more like them. You notice yourself moving further away from your goals.

4. Your self-esteem is tied to what they think/say about you. You give them power to control your moods.

5. They isolate you. You start to distance yourself from your family and other friends.

Any other warning signs you can think of?

Better yet, what are some of the qualities you find in a real friend?

Friday, January 7

Good News...and good-bye

Happy Friday, everyone! Today's post is bittersweet for me, as it will be my last for the TFC blog. But, my reasons for good-bye are based around good news, so, no tears.

Though I did not have a book out in 2010, it was a big year for me. I finished up work on what will be my fourth YA novel - How to Save a Life. I am so excited about this book. Writing it, researching it, revising it, working on it with my editor...all of that was pretty much a joy. Or at least much a "joy" as writing can be, for me. It will be out about a year from now, so, still a ways to wait!

In 2010, I was also a judge for the National Book Awards, and that, along with wrapping up HTSAL, took the majority of my energy. It was a huge honor, though.

My third book, Once Was Lost, won the Utah Book Award late in the year, which was a thrill. (And it was just released in paperback - I'm celebrating all month with giveaways at my blog.)

Other great stuff, like opportunities to teach, and to write in new areas, came my way. And I'm trying to plan 2011 around trying new things and continuing to stretch myself and take risks.

All good things. But, I've got the same 24 hours in the day I had before, and am adding a bunch of new goals. Therefore, I have to let go of some other activities, no matter much I've enjoyed them. Such as blogging at TFC.

I'll miss all my fellow bloggers here, and the readers! Thanks so much, Teen Fiction Cafe, for including me in your community the last couple of years. I'll look forward to celebrating and chatting with you in 2011 as a follower if not a contributor.

Happy new year! And stay in touch - I'm @sarazarr on twitter, and my online home base is

Thursday, January 6

In the News: Redemption

Am I the only one taken by this story? I suppose you can be a novelist and a cynic. Heck, I've even had more than my share of cynical protagonists in my books.

But I still get to write a happy ending if I want. And something about the story of the Man with the Golden Voice tugs at my heart strings.

English teachers tend to drive students nuts, right, with "themes." Like the good versus evil painting of St. Michael defeating Satan, themes are nothing new. I'm sure the first cave people told stories of the great hunt. And tales of defeating enemies.

Themes bind us and they talk to us. And for me, as the New year unfolds, there's no greater theme than an old-fashioned story of redemption.

And maybe that's even more fitting when you're a teen. Because we all make mistakes, and I know in my teen years, I made PLENTY of them. And it's nice to know there's usually a chance for a second act, a part II, a turnaround, a redemption. In books. And in real life.

Thoughts? Any great tales of redemption you know about?

Tuesday, January 4

In the News: SNOW

Although I am no longer trapped in my Brooklyn apartment, it's still mighty snowy outside! In the news, they called it SNOWPOCALYPSE (I'm not exaggerating. They might be, but I'm not.) All this snowy news got me thinking about a book that I really want to read: Michael Northrop's Trapped.

It's the story of seven mismatched students who must adapt in order to survive when they're stranded at their high school without heat or power during a massive, weeklong blizzard, according to Publisher's Marketplace. And according to Michael, it's:

(That's The Breakfast Club meets The Shining, in case you aren't familiar.) How good does that sound?! It's out in early February officially, but word on the street is it's already on some shelves. I'm going hunting.

Is it weird that news, and happenings in the world, makes me think about the books I want to read? What's on your list this week?