Thursday, February 24

In My Perfect Writing World

In my perfect (writing) world:

9. I'd solve any plot problems in my sleep

8. Or better yet, there would be no plot problems because every time I put my butt in the chair and wrote, the muse would be with me.

7. Okay a challenge is fun but I definitely wouldn't get stuck for days weeks months at a time, especially when I'm 3/4ths of the way through. There would be way more a-ha moments than I suck, I quit moments.

6. Yeah I'd definitely have more confidence in my writing in a perfect world.

5. And I wouldn't write such big complicated plots that I'm constantly freaking about word count or killing darlings.

4. And I have some tried and true tricks I could always rely on instead of feeling like I have to reinvent the wheel with every book.

3. But when I did hit that beautiful, wonderful place where the story just flows I'd be able to take time off from my night bartending job and run with it for as long as I wanted.

2. And I'd like a clone who can answer my emails, play with my cats, clean my house, exercise, cook, and write my blogs so I'm not doing that on my phone on a slow night at the bar (because in the perfect world there wouldn't be slow nights at the bar) like I did this blog entry.

1. In the most perfect world of all, I would have finished this book days weeks months ago like I wanted, then I'd take two weeks off and know, just know (because in a perfect world I will have learned to trust my gut again) which of my other ideas to start next and that would of course flow beautifully.

But right now I'd just settle with finishing my book before I go on vacation on March 20, which at this rate in this very imperfect world is going to be rough so cross those fingers for me.....

Tuesday, February 22

A Perfect World

In a perfect world ...

1. People would get credit for their work or ideas.

This has been weighing on my mind lately because a good friend of mine had her brilliant idea swept out from under her and even though the situation is complicated and I can't share the details, I'm sure we've all been in a similar situation. And we all know it feels lousy!

2. We would laugh more often.

I laugh in movies, at my kids' dumb jokes, at my husband's mismatched clothes, when I fall on my snowboard (after I can breathe again), and at my dogs' and cat's crazy antics. It makes me feel good (yay for endorphins!); plus it's great for the abs!

3. We wouldn't be so hard on ourselves.

Not all of use can look like a super model, shoot like a NBA star, write like Charles Dickens or sing like Mariah. I'm very guilty of getting down on myself. But at least I can try and keep my abs toned by laughing at myself (see above point.)

4. We would reach out to someone every day.

Yes, we're busy but if we just take a moment to write a little "thinking of you" email or text, or stop by an old friend's house just to say hi. Don't wait till their birthday or another special occasion, or till they're sick, or till you need something. This was one of my New Year's resolutions and it's so fun to hear I've made someone's day just by reaching out.

Have you (or has someone else) done something today that's made your world a better place?

Monday, February 21

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world...

1. I wouldn't hear lines like the one I just heard on "Morning Joe," which is playing in the background as I write this, the line that goes, "He's the one who bought the pictures of Brett Favre's private parts." I've heard references to Brett Favre's private parts - or, more familiarly, "his junk" - more than I need to in one lifetime.

2. It would not be another school-closing snow day here today, our tenth this year. Yes, I know this is Presidents' Day, but my kid's school was supposed to be open today to make up for one of the nine snow days they've already missed.

3. "Santa Barbara" would never have been canceled.

4. I would be a contestant on "Jeopardy" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," affording me the dual chances to show off my polymath status *and* how generous/unspoiled I'd be if only I were ever a rich girl.

5. There would be no bullying and there would be substantially less Internet rage.

So how about you: What elements would you add to make up a perfect world?

Thursday, February 17

The Top 5 Shows I Miss

I was just lamenting the other day how all the old sitcoms my husband and I watched when we were first married have gone the way of the dino. But lo and behold... most of them can be found somewhere in Directv land in syndication! So here, as a tribute to them, are the Top 5 Shows I Miss.

5. Frasier

Was there ever a funnier, more ascerbic wit than the banter between Frasier and Niles? I think not. And Niles had the most hilarious aversions to random things. I can be a little, shall we say, particular about certain things too. (Okay, it's smells. Weird smells make me crazy. My husband calls me The Bloodhound.) So when I started getting too smell-conscious, my husband would just call me Niles.

4. Seinfeld

I can't even think of a way to describe how much I loved this show except to throw out quotes that we STILL say in our house.

"A George divided against itself, cannot stand!"

"It's a Festivus miracle!"

"You stole my Jesus fish!"

(Have you noticed how all of our favorite quotes have exclamation points? Lots of hilarity in the yelling, that Seinfeld.)

3. Everybody Loves Raymond

I'm so glad this show came along when we were 30ish instead of 20ish. I think a lot of the humor would've been lost on us before then. But get us to the same point in the marriage that Ray and Debra were--minus the inlaws across the street--and them's some guaranteed laughs right there.

"The monkey never learns."

2. The West Wing

I know what you're thinking. Hello? Not a sitcom, Kay! But this show had some of the absolute smartest and sharply funny dialogue of any show I've ever watched. Plus it was brilliantly scripted with memorable, real-life political drama and brought to life by the most amazing ensemble of actors EVER, imho. Who can forget the day Josh decided to respond to the Internet forum to "correct their mistake". Whooo boy. Or the day the group showed CJ that the world map was not what she thought it was. And, of course, the quintessential West Wing moment:

"Let Bartlet be Bartlet"

1. Friends

Hey, I'm turning 40 next month. I grew up with Friends. I loved watching Chandler and Monica fall in love. I cried when Rachel left for Paris without Ross. I never laughed so hard in all my life as I did at Joey's delayed reactions. I can still recite many of Phoebe's songs, and not just Smelly Cat. Even the horribly wrong ones like A Cow in the Meadow. You remember that one, don't you? Phoebe singing to a class of youngsters trying to keep her songs age appropriate. A huge feat for Phoebe's often off-color lyrics. So, you think she's finally got one that will charm the kids and not freak out the parents, thank goodness! Until...

"Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo.
Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo.
Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up,
and that's how we get hamburgers.
Now, chickens!"

So those are the top 5 shows that I miss. What about you? What show do you miss the most?

Monday, February 14

A few of my favorite things.....

This week it's all about lists. Well, I am such a list person it's not funny. So, after deliberating for a while, I decided I'd list my 10 all time favorite musicals. Except it was harder than I thought. My initial list was closer to 20, so I had to be ruthless.

Here it is, in no particular order because I love them all so much for so many different reasons:

The Sound of Music
Guys and Dolls
Calamity Jane
Mamma Mia (the only really current one)
American in Paris
Funny Girl
High Society
Singing in the Rain
Hello Dolly

I could watch these movies all day, every day. And I'm totally in love with Gene Kelly and his awesome dancing.

So, what about you.... what's your favorite musical???

Thursday, February 10

The NEW VOCABULARY & The Interesting Quotes

Here for a limited one-night engagement, appearing live and undead, The New Vocabulary and The Interesting Quotes.

I read the poster in the alley behind my office, three or four times, in a state of disbelief. How is that possible? When I was thirteen or fourteen, back in middle school, back when my hair was very long and my attention span ever so short, I would sit, held captive actually, pen in hand, head in the clouds, drifting through my English class fantasizing of one day fronting a rock band, singing in front of thousands of devoted fans who would know every lyric to every song that I ever wrote. The name of the band I came upon in those daydreaming days was The New Vocabulary. Later I thought it would be interesting to have a second backup band titled The Interesting Quotes.

I reached into my pocket, found an old business card and wrote down the pertinent information. I was about to walk away but the picture of the band, small as it was, caught my eye; there was something about them that looked familiar. I studied their faces: the drummer’s lopsided smile, the girl with the blue guitar, the lead singer had his hat pulled down low but still…yes, there was definitely something very familiar about them.

My cell phone snapped me back to reality.


“Greg, it’s Rita. Where are you? Your 3:15 appointment’s here.”

I mumbled my apologies and quickly made my way to the office and fell back into that all-encompassing, mind-numbing routine. That endless quest in pursuit of money. Forced smiles and insincere handshakes, appointments and sales calls. Breaking my back turning that giant wheel each and everyday. Diving in with my energy and time, emerging at the end of the day, week, month and year with a little less spring in my step and a little less of my soul. Trapped, just another silly man and his expensive suit.

I sat one night at the agreed-upon bar, nursing my drink, wishing I was anywhere but there. Another business meeting, another jerk who didn’t understand that I had better things to do than wait around for his grand appearance. I had a life once. I had dreams and aspirations. I glanced at the clock: an hour late; I assumed he was another no-show. I gulped my drink, rose to my feet and searched my pockets for a tip. I dug deep and pulled out a business card instead of a bill. It was the one on the back of which I had scrawled the information about The New Vocabulary. I checked the date and time and realized the show was about to start.

It took me a while to find the address. A simple black door with a large red seven painted on it. I almost changed my mind a couple of times. After all, I had to get to work early the next morning, work, work, work. Always striving to keep Greg a dull boy. There were no lines outside the club and no doorman. I took this as a bad sign and almost turned away but for some reason I pulled open the large door instead.

A tall man with a pasty face greeted me with a smile of relief.

He blurted out, “Thank god you’re finally here – follow me!”

“Um, sorry I’m late. Has the band started yet?”

He rolled his eyes. “Very funny. Follow me.”

I did. I followed him down a long dark hall. I’m not sure why, it was all so strange and peculiar. The man walked quickly, his gait long, his head bobbed and swayed. He finally stopped in front of a weathered oak door, gently knocked and was quickly granted admission. The room was dark and charged with energy. I could hear the impatient murmur of a large crowd behind a black curtain. Someone hung an electric guitar around my neck. I didn’t question why. I was pushed through a gap in the curtain. The crowd roared; it felt natural. The band turned and greeted me with smiles. The drummer struck up a beat. I walked to the center of the stage.

A loud voice suddenly barks, “Greg!”

I jump and gaze up from my desk. Astounded that I’m back in my middle school English class. I gawk at my classmates, realizing they were the faces I saw in that New Vocabulary poster.

The teacher marches down the aisle and stops in front of my desk, the anger clearly visible in her eyes. She bends down, her face inches away from mine.

Her voice is stern and sharp. “How many times must I tell you to stop daydreaming in class?”

What about you? Ever fantasize about being a rock star?

Wednesday, February 9

Serenity Now!

So, this week at The Café we’re talking about interesting quotes, and, I have to say that I am a sucker not just for the interesting quote, but also the inspirational quote.

I spend hours collecting them. Both for my books—all of the books in The Immortals series, as well as the Riley Bloom series, start with a quote—and for myself.

I scribble them on little bits of paper—thumb type them into my iPhone “notes” feature—add them to a “quotes” document I keep in my laptop—and yes, someday when I find the time, I plan to arrange them all neatly together!

But there’s one quote that never leaves my desk. It’s coffee stained, grease stained, pen-scuffed—come to think of it, it’s pretty disgusting—though it’s message never fails to shine through and help keep me sane and focused in what can sometimes be an insane business.

I’m pretty sure I lifted it from the Tao de Ching—but please don’t quote me on that!

Anyway, it goes like this:

Fill your bowl to the brim

and it will spill

Keep sharpening your knife

and it will blunt

Chase after money and security

and your heart will never unclench

Care about people’s approval

and you will be their prisoner

Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.

What about you--do you have a favorite "sanity" quote??

Tuesday, February 8

My favorite quote

This week at TFC it's all about new words or favorite quotes, however since all of my new words end up being ridiculed by my kids (though I still maintain that 'zoogle' will one day be what all the cool kids will be saying - you heard it here first!). So instead I thought I'd talk about my favorite quote, which, coincidentally is from my all time favorite book: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin

"Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk's flight
On the empty sky. —The Creation of Éa"

I love this quote so much and from the first time I read it over twenty years, I still think about it whenever I need to try and find balance and peace. For me it perfectly captures the zen nature of life and it also reminds me of what an amazing writer Ursula K Le Guin is. So that's my favorite quote (and btw, if you haven't read A Wizard of Earthsea then you really must - it's the story of a boy wizard but written long before Harry Potter ever came along!), but what about everyone else? Do you have a quote that you turn to again and again? If so, I'd love to hear it!

Friday, February 4

Good News Friday!!

Hey Everyone-

Well, it's Good News Friday here at The Cafe, and I'm thrilled to announce that both DARK FLAME & NIGHT STAR have been nominated for the Children's Choice Book Awards "Best Books of 2010"!!

You can see the full list of nominees and vote for your top 5 favorites by clicking HERE! Voting ends on Monday, February 7th, so be sure to hurry!!

I'm also excited to announce that the EVERLASTING cover (the 6th and final installment in
The Immortals series) will be revealed on Tuesday, February 15--so stay tuned for more details on that!!

And last but not least, the booktrailer for SHIMMER, book 2 in the Riley Bloom series, is now live! Click HERE to see it!

That's all for now--enjoy your weekend, everyone!


Thursday, February 3


This week is supposed to be LOL moments. Sometimes, it's best to take crazy, insanely bad moments and try to see the humor in them, while you're in them. Turn them into LOL moments if at all possible. I recently had an experience that I will share with you here.

As you may or may not know, I am co-editing an anthology with Carrie Jones (bestselling author of the NEED series) called DEAR BULLY. It will be coming out from HarperCollins next fall. I will tell you more about this project as we get closer to it (and more information becomes available), but today I'll tell you about my very unglamorous GLAMOUR magazine shoot. If you check out the February issue of Glamour, you can see the article about me and Carrie and how we came up with the idea of putting together a group of young adult authors' personal essays about bullying.

In any case, I had really become fast friends with the writer assigned to the story. When she told me that we were going to be flown to do a Glamour photo shoot, I was so excited!

Were they flying us into New York City? Um, no.

They wanted us to go to Maine.

Hmmm???? Maine? Why Maine?

Well, whatever. It's a Glamour photo shoot and it will be fun. So I thought.....

Here's my correspondence with the writer of the story, letting her know that the Glamour experience wasn't exactly a "glamorous" experience.

Dear S.,

Left my house at 4:30 p.m. Just arrived at the hotel in Bar Harbor at midnight. First plane was canceled. Second plane rescheduled for 7:20. Once in the air, we discover we can't land in Bar Harbor because of fog. We land in Augusta. There's no car for me and the hair and makeup artist, M.. We are shoved into a van that seats eight. There are ten of us and a baby. We drive for three hours in pouring rain. During the van ride, I couldn't even sit completely on the seat and had an arm rest digging into the middle of my back. And the van driver said that even though the door I was shoved up against sounded and felt like it would bust open at any time, it had only been slammed shut so many times that it just made funny sounds. For three hours... Did I mention there was no heat in the van?
We arrive at the hotel to discover there is no one to check us in. By this point, M. and I have become best friends because we cannot believe this is actually happening. She just finished a fashion shoot in Sardinia, and now we are in the middle of nowhere Maine, near the Canadian border. We are slap happy and decide to pick out some couches to sleep on in the lobby. Finally we call and wake up the night person. He has some bad news. Our rooms aren't in the actual hotel, but are in the motel part that is a five minute walk in the pouring rain. Of course they are, we say!
The bright side is that M. and I have become fast friends due to this war story we've shared. We weren't so happy when the photo editor texted M. to say that we were missed at the lobster feast that the rest of the crew had.
So....why did we have to fly to Maine for this again? Was it to shoot some pretty trees and ocean views? Because we have those in Boston.

Okay, I'm going to sleep now in the Bates Motel section of the inn and hoping that the creepy van driver who almost ran us off the road several times doesn't come back and kill me in my sleep. Luckily M. will take pity on me tomorrow and try to hide my dark circles. Then again, it's a piece on bullying, so maybe people will think I just got into a fistfight with the bullies.
Just wanted to share my fun-filled evening. I think I'm going back to being a hermit and never leaving my house.


(who is still your friend after this trip from Hell! I think I would have preferred sending in headshots. Or at this point, stick figure drawings. )

Hi S.,

The shoot turned out to be great (freezing cold and windy, but great). I still have absolutely no idea why it was in Maine, because we took pictures in a park on some bleachers and by the ocean. Considering we have tons of schools/bleachers/parks and amazing coastlines right here in Boston, it was kind of weird.

Anyway, the Glamour team, the photographers, and my new BFF M.-- the insanely talented and spirited makeup artist who was my partner in crime throughout the entire adventure-- were all wonderful. (I was very excited to see that the outfit selected by the stylist was almost EXACTLY the clothes I was wearing -- does that mean I'm in style? Who knew?) Although I do need to run right out and buy those AMAZING Frye boots that I wore on the shoot. I had to tromp through wilderness and muck in freezing temps and they kept my feet toasty warm. A definite bonus. Plus, they made me look supercool. The shoot was FREEZING, but really fun and I think that the photo editor felt bad that we had a night of hell getting to the shoot.

The kicker was when we left the next day, the cab ride to the airport was 20 minutes tops. (Not the 3 hour ride from hell that we suffered through the previous night when we landed in Augusta). So, live and learn. I've made a new BFF (M.) out of the situation, got to know some really great people from Glamour and had an experience that I never would have had if it weren't for YOU and your awesome article. (Plus, you and I are great friends and I even brought your book to read on the trip!)

M. sent me this pic of the shoot, so I could get some idea of what it was going to look like. So, I wanted to send it along to you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again for everything. Can't wait to read the article.


(who is now defrosted and happy to be home)

So, in closing, I took a situation that was really kind of miserable going through it, and chose to see the humor instead. I knew that the bottom line was that this book is going to do a lot of good and will hopefully help a lot of people. Getting the word out about it is just one of those things that I needed to do. And if it meant going on a 3 hour van ride from hell up to the hotel that was featured in The Shining, posing in freezing cold Maine and risking frostbite, then so be it! The people from Glamour were actually wonderful. They sent me a wonderful gift package to make up for the confusion and chaos of the trip. And even though I wasn't prepared to see a gigantic picture of myself in Glamour magazine (with no Maine coastline in sight, oddly enough), it was a thrilling experience that I may never get to go through again.
Most of the time we end up looking back on things and laughing. So, isn't it better to laugh your way through life as you go? Makes things much easier, I think.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for inviting me to join this amazing group of talented writers. I am so honored to be here.


Wednesday, February 2

Laugh Your Way to Happy

Years ago, when I was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I spent months in and out of hospitals. I was sick much more than I was well, and was stuck in bed for weeks on end. And in the midst of this, an old friend of mine arrived, armed with I Love Lucy tapes.

Her thinking was . . . well, laughter is the best medicine. As since those were the (gulp) pre-NetFlix days, and I only had basic cable, there wasn't a lot on in the wee hours of the morning.

I took her advice. I watched back to back to back episodes when I was too sick to sleep. And I laughed. Out loud. Alone. I laughed hard.

Since then, I've ascribed to the idea that there are times in life when you don't need to add anything negative to your thinking. Just like sometimes I like a movie that will offer me a "good cry," there are times in life when you just need a good laugh.

So . . . what are your stand-bys when you know you need cheering up? I still love Lucy.

Tuesday, February 1

Hilarity at the Movies

Sometimes I think the Oscar nominations overlook comedies, even though they're often harder to pull of well than dramas. It's LOL Moments week at TFC, so here are three LOL movies of 2010:

Greenberg. The poster is at left, and this one is just a dramatic/super-funny depiction of a New Yorker who goes to LA to house-sit for his brother and ends up falling for his brother's assistant. At its heart, Greenberg is a romantic comedy, but its wry humor and angsty moments add lots of layers.

Hot Tub Time Machine. Absurd back-in-time premise turns out to be heartwarming and utterly side-splitting.

Get Him to the Greek. If only for the scene with Diddy and his family, where the kids and Diddy start chanting, "It's Biggest Loser time! It's Biggest Loser time! It's Daddy's favorite show! It's Daddy's favorite show!"

Okay, so which other movies made you LOL this year? I bet Easy A is on lots of lists--I haven't seen it yet, but I want to!